Cuba: A Quick Guide to Contemporary Art

In the back is a work by Yonlay Cabrera.


Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

By Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara

HAVANA TIMES — The exhibition titled Nota al pie (“Footnote”) landed in Havana’s Espacio Abierto gallery rather spontaneously. We didn’t have the time normally required for this kind of project, but the proposal seemed attractive to us when curator Carlos Gamez spoke to us about it.

Gamez has developed a method for teaching people to read contemporary art. Simple and aimed at the least informed public, the method comprises four steps that toy with the philosophy of “quick learning” guides.

Arrayed at the entrance of each gallery space, the four points invited visitors to regard the artworks in four different ways. Nowhere was there a guarantee of a precise or insightful interpretation.

The broad range of artistic pieces and their subjects could confuse the less experienced viewer, but the decoding strategy was there, within reach.

Hander Lara, Yonlay Cabrera Quindemil, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, Carlos Becerra, Alejandro Barreras, Ivan Perera, Ernesto Domecq, Ranfis Suarez, Alein Somonte, Lisbeth Ballart, Aluan Argüelles, Yacel Yzquierdo, Alexis Jacas, Yoanny Aldaya y Liuby Hernandez are part of that great group of artists who soberly contributed to the project with videos, sculptures, drawings, paintings, installations and other pieces set up in the gallery spaces.


Paradigm by Rafael Villares

Today, when people still harbor many reservations about “contemporary” art – given its confusing symbolism and intricate forms of expression – this exhibition affords us an easy and safe way out, albeit in a highly ironic fashion, presenting us with a thorny question: can the whole of art be understood using a generic formula?

Could such a formula reveal new paths, stories, from a given piece, leading us to its core?

Fragment from the work by Yacel Yzquierdo


The guide to interpreting the pieces included the following steps:
1. Look at the piece on display as a work of art
2. Try to understand it as holding some connection to a concrete idea thar reminds you of something specific, a thesis.
3. Look for any connection between the object or try to create a link with the idea you came across in step 2
4. Decide on a reaction to what you understand to be the central idea behind the piece and its subjective intent.