What’s on Our Nightstands: Baracoa de Cuba, The Painters’ Magic

Baracoa de Cuba: La magia de sus pintores [The Painters’ Magic] (2009), by Elexis Fernández Rubio Navarro and Rosendo Romero Suárez, is a comprehensive study of the outstanding artists of Baracoa, the oldest colonial settlement in Cuba. Part of the Nuevos Mundos Collection published by the St. Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association, this bilingual (Spanish/English) publication, with beautiful full-color illustrations, details the evolution of Baracoa’s contemporary art movement, and at the same time vividly displays the unique Baracoan style of painting, inspired by nature, legend, and myth.

The first section of The Painter’s Magic briefly traces the evolution of local painting from the pre-Colombian period to the present time. The second part of the book presents some of Baracoa’s most prominent contemporary artists. The high quality reproductions of each individual’s work are complemented with personal commentaries by the artists about their painting styles and artistic influences. Biographical material helps to illustrate how this school of art is inspired by Hispano-African-Caribbean legends and myths, by the city itself, and also by the many natural wonders that surround Baracoa.

In its first chapter, Roots, Baracoa is described as “a national monument, but [it is] also one of those timeless places that has its own personality, highlighted by artists who celebrate its ancestral charms with works that reveal a profound sense of belonging.” Established in 1511, Baracoa was Cuba’s first religious and administrative center. During its long history, a unique artistic tradition developed that is greatly influenced by the clash and eventual melding of the Tai­no, European, and African cultures, along with the constant presence of the exuberant natural beauty of the area. This charming coastal town, nestled against a backdrop of magnificent mountains, has given birth to a decisive Baracoan artistic identity and to a profound sense of the Artist being an integral element of this magical world.

Elexis Fernández Rubio teaches history of philosophy at the University of Guantanamo in Baracoa. He is a specialist with the National Registry of Cultural Patrimony and is the author of numerous articles on history, culture, and traditions of Baracoa. He is president of the Union of Cuban Historians for Baracoa, as well as a member of the José Martí­ Cultural Society. He is also the author of Baracoa: Apuntes de su Historia y su Banda de Música (2006).

Rosendo Romero Suárez graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in art history. As assistant professor at the Baracoa branch of  the University of Guantanamo, he teaches art history and philosophy. He creates and curates cultural projects and exhibitions in the city. He has worked with the International Film School in San Antonio de los Baños, with the Cuban Art and Film Institute (ICAIC), and local radio and television stations. He is a member of The Association of Cuban Historians and the José Martí­ Cultural Society.

[Many thanks to Soledad Pagliuca for sharing this beautiful book with us.]

For more information, see http://www.amazon.com/Baracoa-Cuba-pintores-Painters-English/dp/0971667527

Image: Luis Eliades’ “Changó, Ochún y Yemayá” (2004), from http://www.noa-art.com/Eliades/index-eliades.html

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