What’s on Our Nightstands: Christoph Singler’s “Genesis of Black Painting—The Parisian Works of Guido llinás”

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Art historian Christoph Singler’s Génesis de la pintura negra: La obra parisina de Guido llinás [Genesis of Black Painting—The Parisian Works of Guido llinás] was published in December 2013 (Valencia: Aduana Vieja) and launched at this year’s Caribbean Studies Association Congress in Merida, Mexico. This fascinating book centers on the work of self-taught Cuban artist Guido Llinás and his resignification of African elements and exploration of color through an expressionism steeped in the history of Cuba, the Caribbean, and the legacy of trans-Atlantic displacement. Cuban writer Zoé Valdés says, “Only Christoph Singler could write a book so extraordinary, brilliant and truthful about the work of Guido Llinás. Thank you.” This is a truly engrossing read and an important contribution to our interrelated fields.

Book Description: Guido Llinás (Cuba, 1923 – France, 2005), painter and engraver, is best known as a founding member of Los Once [The Eleven], a Cuban vanguard art group of the 1950s. This first monograph on his work in exile reconstructs the development of his Pintura Negra [Black Painting] and delves into its main dimensions: the vindication of blackness as a color, references to the historical violence and the memory of the African continent. The Llinás’ Black Painting is a constant reflection on the stability and legibility of the sign, the fragility of the image, and the multiple layers of memory. It is a diasporic art—a profoundly trans-Atlantic one—that combines and displays African influences through Expressionism, in all its manifestations, from street aesthetic and new French realism to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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Guido Llinás taught elementary school in Pinar del Río, Artemisa, and Havana. He graduated in pedagogy from the University of Havana. He exhibited his artwork as part of the group Los Once, who defended abstract art. He traveled around the United States (visiting major galleries and museums in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC, as well as Europe, visiting the museums of France, Italy, Spain, England, and Germany. In 1959, he moved to Paris, where he lived and worked for some time. The Cuban government awarded him with a scholarship to return to Paris and work on engraving at the Hayter atelier. In 1963, he became a visual arts professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Havana. He later moved back to Paris and worked at the Denise René Gallery for several years, where he was in charge of the inventory for the paintings and serigraphs. This position allowed him to meet artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Jean Arp, Vasarely, and Richard Montesen.

As Edward Sullivan writes, his paintings blend the gestural qualities that link him to Abstract Expressionism, with veiled references to Afro-Cuban ritual. Sullivan explains: “Circles, arrows, the suggestion of an axe or a cross motif make their appearances in these pictures. None of these references specifically refer to a particular cult or form of worship. There is no instance of folkloric or primitivist self consciousness.”

Christoph Singler is a professor of Latin American literatures and arts at the University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France.

[Image above: Llinás’ 1967 “Hasta aquí” (Up to here).]

For purchasing information, see http://www.publiberia.com/libros/autores/356-Singler,%20Christoph

Also see more on llinás through http://www.cernudaarte.com/artists/guido-llinas/ and http://guidollinas.com/about_the_artist.htm

For more on the author, see http://www.crimic.paris-sorbonne.fr/_Christoph-Singler_.html

Also see http://zoevaldes.net/2013/08/16/genesis-de-la-pintura-negra-la-obra-parisina-de-guido-llinas-christoph-singler/

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