Winners of the Farber Foundation’s International Cuban Art Awards Announced in Havana


The Howard and Patricia Farber Foundation announced last night the winners of the first international Cuban Art Awards in a presentation that, in the days before the Biennial’s opening this Friday, quickly became one of the hottest tickets in Havana.

The award for Artist of the Year went to Alexandre Arrechea (b. 1970, Trinidad, Cuba), best known for No Limits, 2013, a series of ten monumental sculptures installed along Manhattan’s Park Avenue malls.

The award for Young Artist of the Year (under 35 years old) was won by the team Celia & Yunior (Celia Irina González Álvarez, b. 1985, Havana; and Yunior Aguiar Perdomo, b. 1984, Havana), who have worked as a duo since 2004.

The Artist of the Year award carries a cash prize of $10,000. The Young Artist of the Year award carries a cash prize of $3,000.

“We are thrilled with the jurors’ selection of Alex Arrechea and Celia & Yunior as the first Cuban Art Awards winners,” said Farber Foundation president Howard Farber.

“With the Cuban Art Awards, the best artists of Cuba are being recognized by their peers, and the awards reinforce the idea that ‘big’ art can be found in ‘small’ countries,” Farber continued. “I was especially interested to see one of the awards going to artists who have worked primarily on the island, and the other to an artist who works internationally. That’s a good reflection of where contemporary Cuban art is at the moment.”

Alexandre Arrechea opens a solo exhibition, El Mapa del Silencio (The Map of Silence), at the National Fine Arts Museum of Havana this Saturday, May 23, the day after the 12th Biennial’s official opening. Celia & Yunior are among the four Cuban artists showcased in the Cuban Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

“The Farber Foundation salutes all the artists nominated for this year’s awards,” said Farber. “Our thanks to the nominators for putting together such a spectacular group of finalists, and to our jurors for making what had to be a difficult final decision.”

The awards were presented at a packed invitation-only event at the Wifredo Lam Center, where a stellar crowd of artists, curators, and leading cultural figures, both on the island and from around the world, celebrated the awards. The crowd enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and the music of the acclaimed Septeto Habanero.

“Our thanks to the Wifredo Lam Center, the 12th Havana Biennial, and the National Council on the Visual Arts (CNAP) for bringing the international Cuban Art Awards to Havana,” said Farber. “The awards were created to heighten awareness of Cuban art in an international context, and presenting them as part of the Biennial only makes them more effective in this.”

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