Angels in Havana

Regina Cano

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago the art exhibit “Sombra de Angeles” (Shadow of Angels), by painter Hanna Chomenko, opened at the Fayad Jamis Art Gallery, in the Alamar area of Havana. The show is composed of paintings, drawings and installations.

Consistent with the title, there abound angels — with and without wings — whose shapes recall ancient paintings and legends idealized by humanity, turning these collective creations into images of a world of dreams where other beings — the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad — found life throughout much of the Middle Ages.

It is an exhibition that centers on the human figure as a realistic element, sometimes in unusual environments. In the main hall we see traces of a new postmodern Baroque, something lyrical and recalling romanticism. The rooms adjacent lead us into intimate displays that cause us to ponder existence.

So, when you enter into Hanna’s exhibit, in addition to enjoying its timelessness, you might unexpectedly find that there’s an artist in Cuba who recreates this world in our present time — despite the current reality — as a kind of escape or parallel existence for those people who visit it.

But watch out!, Hanna told me. There’s a less idyllic world in the subsequent spaces that might be common to us: the dreams and ideals that transform us daily and remain looming before our lives like a mirage.

Hanna Chomenko is a young Cuban who is the daughter of a Polish father and a Cuban mother. She has lived in Cuba since her earliest years, and her origin — being between two cultures — is one of the influences of her work, as the artist acknowledges.

She studied at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in 1992 and has realized a number of individual and group exhibitions both in Cuba and abroad, receiving awards and citations for her work over the years. Her creations are now scattered over 14 countries.

She is also a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC).

Hanna appropriates the soft feminine shapes that can be discovered within Havana’s architecture…of that pastiche that it is and from a different view of everyday life, that one day trapped but still accompanies her.

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Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.