Here is an event I would have loved to attend! “Imalabra,” a recent show by Antonio Martorell at the Universal Art building of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba, showcased more than four decades of work by this prolific and revered Puerto Rican artist. In her review, Clotilde Serrano explains: “With this exposition, in which the creator brings together text and image in a unique composition, Cuba pays him tribute on his 75th birthday.” Here is part of her review:
A large number of pieces that illustrate his almost fifty years of artistic life, presented in supports as varied as paper, wood or plastic, may be appreciated in this showcase that exudes charm and magic, as well as the presence of playful elements that have always accompanied him and which grant uniqueness to his work.
“This exposition is the largest ever made of my work and covers forty years of persistent and consistent work. It’s logical that it takes place in Cuba, where I have been coming for more than thirty years not as a visitor, but to enjoy working with my Cuban compatriots, because [. . .] every Cuban is a compatriot for a Puerto Rican.”
Two works are being exhibited for the first time: “La mecedora,” a 14-foot high rocking chair with a clock and an engraving with a fragment of his book La piel de la memoria, and “Las Antillas metradas.”
“I took this opportunity to turn this retrospective exposition into a prospective one, and for that purpose I made two pieces that are being premiered here. I really made three pieces, but only “La mecedora” is visual art as such. Engraved on it are texts from my book La piel de la memoria. There is also “Las Antillas metradas,” on which, using an ancient map of the Caribbean as background, I present an alphabet in which each letter contains the name or last name of a great creator of Caribbean literature.”
Painter, graphic artist, stage and wardrobe designer for theater and cinema, he has also worked as a journalist and written two books: La piel de la memoria and El Libro de las cosas perdidas. As part of the tribute for his 75th birthday and on the occasion of the event Mayo Teatral organized every two years by Casa de las Américas, he also exhibited in the venue of that institution a showcase of his most important posters created for diverse theater stagings. Moreover, he was one of the invited guests to the cycle of Caribbean social thought “Ser Boricua”, also organized by the Casa, where he lectured on the work of Lorenzo Homar, an important Puerto Rican engraver whose centennial was being celebrated and who was his maestro.
Antonio Martorell has been very close to Cuba, to Casa de las Américas – where in 1999 he left a pleasant memory with his graphic intervention on the inner walls of the house elevator – as well as to the Havana Biennials, Art Schools and the San Alejandro Painting Academy. [. . .]
Imalabra is a unique occasion to meet with one of the most versatile artists in the Caribbean milieu.