Tout le poids d’une île. Collectionner l’art cubain
This exhibition is part of Tout le poids d’une île. Collectionner l’art cubain.
Museum of fine arts of Rennes
20, quai Émile Zola
François Coulon, curator at the Museum of fine arts of Rennes, Patrice Goasduff, codirector of 40mcube, Anne Langlois, codirector of 40mcube, François Vallée, teacher, art critic and art collector.
Yunior Acosta, Léster Álvarez, Pedro Álvarez, Francisco Antigua, Néstor Arenas, Santiago Armada dit Chago, Belkis Ayón, José Bedia, Ernesto Briel, Alejandro Campins, Raúl Cañibano, Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, Raychel Carrión, Alberto Casado, Sandra Ceballos, Raúl Cordero, Raúl Corrales, Salvador Corratgé, Ernesto Crespo, Arturo Cuenca, Ángel Delgado, Roberto Diago, Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez dit Korda, José Antonio Díaz Peláez, Antonia Eiriz, Juan Francisco Elso Padilla, Tomás Esson, Darwin Estacio Martínez, Leandro Feal, José Franco, Carlos Garaicoa, Lázaro García, Rocío García, Carlos García de la Nuez, Julio Girona, Ahmed Gómez, Eric Gómez Galán, Juan-Sí González, Jesús González de Armas, Armando Guiller, Henry Eric Hernández, Guillermo Fernando López Junque dit Chinolope, Nicolás Lara, larry, Hamlet Lavastida, Ernesto Leal, Vladimir de León Llaguno, Rogelio López Marín dit Gory, Yunior Mariño, Jorge Luis Marrero, Raúl Martínez, Yornel Martínez, Manuel Mendive, Raúl Milián, Ibrahim Miranda, El Monje, Elsa Mora, Noel Morera, Bernardo Navarro, Glexis Novoa, Odalys Orozco, René Peña, Umberto Peña, Douglas Pérez, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Michel Pérez Pollo, Alain Pino, Juan Miguel Pozo, Carlos Quintana, Ciro Quintana, Elio Rodríguez, Fernando Rodríguez, Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas, Lázaro Saavedra, Enrique Silvestre, Loló Soldevilla, Leandro Soto, Ezequiel Suárez, Ermy Taño, José Ángel Toirac, Alejandro Ulloa, Eliseo Valdés, Hilda Vidal, Manuel Vidal, José Ramón Villa Soberón, José Ángel Vincench, Ramón Williams
In a completely unexpected way, one of the citizens of Rennes has been a lover of Cuban art for decades. Patiently collected for more than thirty years, François Vallée’s collection, which includes some 400 pieces never shown to the public, was the pretext for this unprecedented discovery offered by Tout le poids d’une île. A cuban art collection, a project initiated by the 40mcube art center, which brings together the Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes, the 40mcube art center (Rennes) and the Passerelle art center (Brest).
From the cabinet of curiosities to Cuban art
Resulting from the revolutionary confiscations of Rennes’ collections in 1794, the Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes has an exceptional cabinet of curiosities which, since its restitution in 2012, makes it possible for the institution to claim being an open window on the world. This openness is not, however, neutral and unprincipled or, on the contrary, all-encompassing. Indeed, according to its scientific and cultural program, it is the notion of expressing cultural diversity as an embodiment of another way of being in the world that is privileged. The question of decentering Western postures is thus central in order to feel the extent to which there really are other ways of perceiving the world: the visitor should not simply succumb to the charm of strangeness, but seek to feel the expression of an otherness that is not inscribed in the diversity of individualities, but in that which stems from the long traditions of the cultural heritages that come from the long time of museums. In this context, the institution has already carried out numerous international projects, taking advantage of the twinning arrangements between the City of Rennes and China, Japan, Vietnam and the Czech Republic.
Bringing together all of Cuba
Knowledge of other cultures is marked in France by its colonial past, its relations with its economic and political partners and with the Great Powers. As a result, little is said about Latin America, and Cuba, in this absence of a collective imagination, is often reduced to a few general traits that can take the place of clichés made up of salsa, communist revolution and rum. Only a few students who have studied Spanish will have heard of Nicolás Guillén or Alejo Carpentier, but none of them will have heard of Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Sandra Ceballos, Belkis Ayón, Antonia Eiriz or the groups Los Once or Puré. However, Cuba is undoubtedly one of the three great cultural poles of Spanish-speaking America, alongside Argentina and Mexico. Twelve times less populated than Mexico and 25 times smaller than Argentina, the island has nevertheless produced an unsuspected quantity of truly fascinating musicians, dancers, writers and visual artists whose influences have had a universal scope that easily rivals the Amerindian and Southern Cone centers.
The Castro revolution of 1959, which succeeded the Batista dictatorship, established a divisive regime that led to a situation similar to those still existing in Korea and China: partition. In the United States alone, nearly 10% of the Cuban population has emigrated, mainly to Florida, not to mention other Latin American countries, particularly Mexico.
As a result, Cuban artistic creation, when it claims to be such, must also take into account this very important diaspora. Cuban art is therefore not exclusively the product of an island, but is the product of this island that federates the artists.
The exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts is structured by a dozen thematics that link together what the curators François Coulon, Anne Langlois, Patrice Goasduff, and François Vallée have perceived as characteristic of the collection. After a monumental fresco in the patio, which is a projection of a possible future landscape for Cuba by Néstor Arenas, and which serves as a backdrop for a quasi-Orwellian installation by Yornel Martínez (Relato impersonal), the exhibition begins with two large 28-meter murals by José Bedia, in which mystical vernacular presences are made sensitive to us, and which introduce the different links of the exhibition.
Reading between the lines
Taken from the title of a work by Ernesto Leal, this introduction should lead the visitor to adopt the posture of decoding a hidden meaning.
The shadow of heritage
Evocation of historical events and figures of Cuba, including José Martí, revolutionary apostle of the struggle for the independence of the island at the end of the XIXth century.
Tristes tropiques ?
Where real nostalgic clichés meet the melancholy of a bygone and imaginary Cuba that is not without evoking the work of Cabrera Infante Tres tristes tigres.
Hasta la victoria… siempre ?
Revolutionary myths in action.
¡ Socorro ! Help!
Los sobrevivientes – The survivors
How to survive? Through art!
A nod to Latin American muralism and its exuberant generosity.
Religion resulting from a syncretism between African and Catholic cults at the time of the Spanish colony in Cuba.
The body at stake
From the magnificent photographs of René Peña to the paintings of José Ángel Vincench (It seems abstract but it is not) through the dreamlike of Manuel Vidal, the body is also a major issue of the representation in all its states.
Déjame contarte una historia – Let me tell you a story
Jorge Luis Marrero, but also Sandra Ceballos, revisit the storytelling of artistic heritage, and Ernesto Leal attacks the very structures of language.
A burning patience
Hanging like ex-votos in this ultimate space, the works become messages to be meditated and experienced.
Tout le poids d’une île. Collectionner l’art cubain, 2022-2023, exhibition views. Photo : Margot Montigny.