Gallo’s Garden and Gallery

Photo Feature by Elio Delgado

Hector Gallo

HAVANA TIMES, 4 agosto — “The Garden and Gallery of Endearment” is the name Hector Gallo Portieles gave to his outdoor art exhibition of installations and sculptures, and a gallery located within the walls of his apartment in the Alamar community, on the eastern edge of Havana.

In these displays, he transforms into works of art —sculpture, poetry and philosophy— a collection of thrown away objects, things that any other person without this individual’s sensitivity would see as a hodgepodge of junk and madness, but what he considers his world.

As soon as one sees him, he is recognized as an artist. His beard and hair, long and white; his necklaces and bracelets, made of dissimilar seeds; his cane, also adorned artistically; all give the idea of a renowned character, and that he is.

This 86-year-old man maintains his vitality, along with surprising mental clarity and an enviable memory. He can recall and recite dozens of his writings composed at some time over his artistic career.

Hector Gallo wrote a book titled Radiografía de Gallo (An X-ray of Gallo), which was published in Spain. For it he has received honors such as the Pablo Naranjo Porras Earth and Freedom international award, in Aldeacentenera, Cáceres, Extremadura, also in Spain.

Despite being an artist in the full sense of the word, Gallo is not well known in Cuba, and he’s not a member of UNEAC (the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba).

Hector Gallo’s life, which I cannot discuss here for a lack of space, is an exciting story. He was a barber, a diplomat in more than 20 countries, a journalist and finally the artist that he always carried within.

In one of the numerous thoughts and proverbs written by Gallo, he expresses the following: “Life offers the opportunity, not always repeatable, of being able to tell who one really is, by doing.” That is what Hector Gallo has done over the last 20 years: demonstrating that he is an artist, creating art.

In the accompanying photos of the gallery, we exhibit his work.

Click on the tumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery