Cuban propaganda posters at Kemistry Gallery

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A post by Peter Jordens.

A collection of over 40 Cuban propaganda posters is on display at Kemistry Gallery, 43 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London, UK, until January 25, 2014. The exhibit is called the OSPAAAL (Organization in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) Posters Show and admission is free.

To most people Cuba is famous for cigars, rum, salsa and baseball however perhaps lesser known is the unique propaganda art that flourished thanks to the Cuban Revolution and its more infamous leader Fidel Castro. As a lone communist outpost in the Caribbean in the 1960s, only 200 miles from the US mainland, Cuba became a key source of Cold War propaganda – most notably the state-sponsored poster art that flourished as some of the country’s most talented artists and graphic designers embraced Castro’s enlightened declaration: “Our enemies are capitalists and imperialists, not abstract art.” In contrast to the socialist realism of Soviet and Chinese propaganda, Castro determined the style of the Revolution would be internationalist, yet steeped in Cuba’s diverse cultural, ethnic and artistic heritage. This melting pot of influences, combined with a characteristic wit and exuberance, resulted in a vibrant and highly original Cuban aesthetic.

Amongst several agencies established to promote education, industry, sport and the arts, OSPAAAL reflected the moral, material and military assistance Cuba provided throughout the developing world. The organisation’s quarterly publication Tricontinental, which at its peak was distributed in four languages to 87 countries, served as a noticeboard, guide book and lifestyle magazine for various liberation movements seeking to emulate Castro’s popular revolution. Bold, colourful and eclectic, OSPAAAL posters are widely considered the front-runners in propaganda art. They reveal the idealistic spirit at the core of the Cuban Revolution, intent on fighting globalisation, imperialism and defending human rights. Politics aside, they are a testament to the creativity of the Cuban people, an important legacy that has put Cuba at the centre of cultural activity in the Hispanic world for a generation.

The above text is from Kemistry Gallery, http://kemistrygallery.co.uk/ospaaal, an independent design gallery established in 2004.

For more OSPAAAL posters (342 images), visit http://www.docspopuli.org/CubaWebCat/gallery-01.html. For more Cuban poster art and links to other such websites, go to http://www.artofcuba.com.

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