By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – Ever since he was a little boy, he paid close attention to colored images, he studied paintings and tried to copy them on every surface he could find. His passion for art grew with him and his father supported his dream of becoming a great artist one day.
The boy needed an education. Given the clear signs of his talent, the family combined their efforts and decided to all pitch in for his education. He began to formally study in 1947, at the age of 14.
But it was in the mid-1950s that he enroled in the school connected to “San Alejandro”, where he studied the two first years. He completed the course with excellent grades and was able to then join the “San Alejandro” National School of Fine Arts.
He had to pay three pesos to enroll in every course at this academy. He was given canvases and brushes, but he had to buy his own paints. He studied new subjects there, including Life Drawing, which was done with a living model. Artistic Anatomy was one of his favorite classes, where you studied with skeletons and painted sheets of paper, to indicate the body’s muscles.
In 1958, he went to spend the Christmas holidays in his hometown with his family. It was there that he received news of the change of government, and he spent those first years of the Revolution waiting to be able to complete his studies. Later, when everything had taken on a new pace, he joined the school again to study the remaining subjects of his course, and he graduated in April 1961.
Guadalupe Liduvino Echevarria was born on December 12, 1933 in the town of Paso Quemado, in Pinar del Rio. Becoming a great artist was his only wish. His reality was the following:
After graduating, he began working as a Visual Arts teacher at the Pedro Hernandez High School in his municipality. But when vocational subjects at high school disappeared, he was left jobless.
He spent a few years at home sewing shirts he designed himself for different customers, and pictures for teachers. He just about got by with the only thing he knew how to do.
At that time, he painted a tempera painting with floral motifs to take part in a nationwide painting competition, which he came in second place.
After winning that award, he painted other paintings and presented another painting at the 1967 Festival, also with floral motifs, and he won first place in the Pinar del Rio province.
As there weren’t any galleries in Los Palacios, he would ask for classrooms in the school holidays to set up his exhibitions. He also put on exhibitions at the Workers’ Social Club, at the Studio where he worked and in some of his friends’ living rooms.
He retired in the 1990s, but he continued to paint at home until his death in April 2020. In September of that year, an exhibition of his work was held at the Municipal Art Gallery, under the name “Rostros” (Faces). The Gallery now takes his name, thanks to the director’s great efforts.
Liduvino was a polite and sensitive man. An art lover buried in his native land, scorned by many young artists who were emerging during this time. I remember when I held my first exhibition at Los Palacios. I had just graduated and I still held onto this illusion that everything was just beginning. He came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder.
“You’re very good, don’t let anyone clip your wings. This art world is cruel, full of hypocrites who will want to stand in your way. Don’t let them, fly.”
Today, after so many setbacks and not having any materials to make my art, I understand the sadness I always saw in his eyes, the meaning of those words that he said to me back in 2006. “An artist without an audience, is a bird without wings.”