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Ariel Cabrera Montejo Solo Exhibition: Second Impressions
September 21, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cuba’s wars for independence –the fights against Spain that led to the American-Cuban-Spanish war in the late XIX and early XX Century- fueled Americans’ imaginations. As avid consumers of Cuban tobacco, American tourists in Havana were lured by the idyllic scenes of war printed on the lids of tobacco boxes. These depicted the romance of mambises (Cuban soldiers) with beautiful guajiras (peasant women) posing in custom dresses, promising an island full of opportunities for true love. Painters such as Frederick Remington and Winslow Homer travelled to the island at the time, to capture the epic events in images that were not always realistic, but rather their interpretations of the facts. Still, their paintings were widely circulated, ultimately serving the purposes of Roosevelt’s campaign for annexing Cuba.
A century later, artist Ariel Cabrera, a Cuban now living in the U.S., ignites our imaginations yet again with new versions of history that may be as valid as those documented. In his paintings there are mambises and guajiras, machetes and military formations as before, and yet they take part of scenarios that we did not foresee.
His take is not judgmental – if anything, it would be humorous and sarcastic. He is not focused on historical accuracy, even though most of the characters in the paintings are inspired by real people and stories he came across in his research. On choosing the subject of the works, he also states, “sometimes what happened was less interesting than what did not happen.”