January 22, 2012 – April 15, 2012

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Flavio Garciandia
Untitled, from El sindrome de Marco Polo (The Marco Polo Syndrome), ca. 1986
Acrylic and glitter on canvas
Gift of Fran Magee and Gallery 106, 2003

The Marco Polo Syndrome: Contemporary Cuban Art presents a selection of The Blanton’s holding from some of the most important contemporary Cuban artists working today. The exhibition examines the cultural renaissance of 1980s Cuba that swept the visual arts, cinema, literature, and theatre. The work of artists like José Bedia, Ricardo Rodríguez Brey, and Flavio Garciandía, on view in the exhibition, became pivotal to this artistic evolution, with works that spoke to a collective desire to achieve greater creative freedom within the conservative and repressive system that defined the everyday life in Cuba at the time. The title of the exhibition references Flavio Garciandía’s 1986 series, El síndrome de Marco Polo, which became an emblematic work of the emerging and thriving artistic community.

Among other artists, the exhibition includes work by José Toirac, Abel Barroso, and Antonio Eligio Fernández “Tonel,” who rose to prominence during the 1990s. Their art displays the harsh reality that marked the decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the codification into law of the US embargo against Cuba, or “blockade” as it is referred to in Latin America, in 1992. The flourishing art scene of the 1980s suffered from scarcity and a growing isolation at a time of great global expansion. At this time artists like Toirac and Barroso turned to satire and irreverence in order to revel the difficult sociopolitical and economic reality they confronted.

Contemporary Cuban artists continue to produce compelling art that embodies the cultural richness emblematic of the country’s long and extraordinary cultural history and tradition.