Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES, Feb 23 — As part of my fifth year major in art history, I took the course “Workshop on Fine Arts Criticism,” taught by specialist Adelaida de Juan. In that class, we attended three major art exhibitions last year.
The exhibits “Speaking in Tongues,” “Throw the Spear and Throw It Well,” and “Prints for an Award” were the shows selected for evaluating three types of criticism: for cataloging, magazine publishing and specialized magazines.
The experience was productive because we were able to apply a set of analytical tools in an attempt to decode the particularities of each exhibit.
These consisted of abstract painting and different modes of engraving, which resulted in interesting presentations, at least in terms of motivating students to learn the engraving.
There were many artists involved in these exhibitions, with one being an individual show — that by Rigoberto Mena, whose exhibit was “Speaking in Tongues (Spanish: Hablando en lenguas) — while the rest were collective shows. Therefore it’s impossible to name all of the participants, although certain names were repeated, like those of Octavio Irving and Frank Martinez.
A special feature that characterized the exhibit “Prints for an Award” (Spanish: Estampas para un premio) was the presence of foreign artists on its roster of contributors. This element responded to the main objective of the exhibition: To make a symbolic journey through the ten editions of the Young Illustration Award (Premio La Joven Estampa) through the works of its most outstanding winners, judges, honorable mentions and the exhibit’s selected pieces.
This sample deeply enriched us in the sense of permitting us to clarify possible work strategies and artistic discourses, though we couldn’t compare them in an historical context because of being so young when these works were created (between 1993–2005).
The Cuban Fine Art Museum, the Villa Manuela Gallery and La Casa de las Americas, which are all institutions located in Havana, were the spaces for these presentations, where we found ingenious and transcendental art, even if it was that of young artists.
In terms of carrying out the workshop itself, it’s worth pointing out that the tensest moment was when a randomly selected student had to read their evaluation to the class before being subjected to self-criticism, which in turn was motivated by the promise of a good evaluation.
Imperceptible errors and many other more palpable ones were pointed out, but what contributed most to me was the dialogue with the artistic pieces and the attractiveness of there being so many of them.