Cuban art revisited in Pizzuti Collection exhibit


A report by Peter Tonguette for the Columbus Dispatch.

For the second time in three years, the Pizzuti Collection has pointed its compass toward Cuba.

In 2013, the Short North gallery presented “Cuban Forever,” featuring artists who were born in, or had family ties to, the island nation.

Last month, a follow-up to the earlier exhibit opened.

Taking up three floors, “Cuban Forever Revisited” offers paintings, sculptures and even a black-box installation. Viewers will encounter little duplication between the shows: Only two pieces seen in the 2013 exhibit are currently on display.

“It is a completely new show,” said assistant curator Greer Pagano, “but inspired by a continuing interest and attention to Cuba.”


Especially attention-grabbing are several paintings of very large dimensions.

An untitled oil-on-canvas by Carlos Quintana — measuring 78 1/2 by 86 inches — presents a nude figure sitting in a space surrounded by what look like giant jacks. The position of the figure recalls the “Seated Figure” series by Francis Bacon, whose style is also echoed in the blotchy color scheme (with an emphasis on pink and purple).

Equally imposing is “Nunca y siempre,” a 116- by 250-inch oil-and-wax-on-canvas by Enrique Martinez Celaya. The work depicts a leopard on the prowl in a swampy, marshlike terrain, shown in a stark, monochromatic palette.

The nonrepresentational strain of Cuban art is displayed in a room dedicated to the diez pintores concretos — or 10 concrete painters — who practiced an abstract-in-the-extreme style in the 1950s and ’60s.

An untitled acrylic-on-canvas by Salvador Corratge shows long, thin shapes in black, gray, white and red that fit together as in a jigsaw puzzle, while an untitled paint-and-wood-on-canvas by Sandu Darie presents multicolored forms derived from rectangles and triangles that jut out.

Other highlights include the acrylic-on-canvas “Gran Pared” by Michel Perez Pollo, which suggests three-dimensional graffiti; the black-box installation “Listening to the Stars” by Glenda Leon, which pairs a projection of a star-filled sky with a music box’s lullaby; and paintings of figures ranging from Fidel Castro to Elian Gonzalez.

“It just felt right to revisit Cuba with this incredible change in our diplomatic relations and people’s ability to go to Cuba,” Pagano said of what prompted the exhibit.

To take in the country’s artistic achievements, however, requires nothing more than an excursion to the Short North.

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