Cuban art comes to New Haven


For artists like Reynier Ferrer, the active literary and cinematic culture that emerged in post-revolution Cuba in the 1950s continues to be a source of inspiration.

On Thursday, an exhibition of works by prominent Cuban painter Ferrer opened at Arte Inc., a small gallery on Grand Avenue dedicated to promoting Latino art and culture. The paintings in the show, titled “Con la Memoria,” are the result of correspondence between the artist and his great uncle, the renowned Cuban writer Emundo Denoes.

Organized in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month in collaboration with the New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema, which recently came to New Haven, the exhibition features eight paintings by Ferrer in addition to a film based on Denoes’ writing and the gallery’s permanent collection.

“This exhibition is a holistic view of film, literature and art,” said Margherita Tortora, a Portugese professor and assistant director of the Ibero American Cinema festival. “All the pieces are heavily influenced by Denoes’ experiences.”

Denoes, who wrote the novel “Memories of Underdevelopment,” was an early revolutionary in Cuba during the 1950s but was exiled to the United States when he renounced the movement upon the Soviet Union’s involvement. When Ferrer, who was raised in Havana, began corresponding with Denoes, the two decided to begin creating abstract art based on Denoes’ novel, Tortora said.

“The paintings have big blotches of paint, they are very violent, very abstract,” said Cuban history student Mike Bustamante GRD ’15. “[The paintings] have clear influence from the generation of Cuban painters from the 1950s.”

While the full show includes more works than are on view at Arte, the remaining pieces currently hang in the governor’s mansion in Providence, R.I., where the exhibition was last shown. Tortora said that the governor enjoyed the exhibit so much that he wanted to borrow some of the paintings to display in his own home.

Although Ferrer and Denoes were scheduled to speak on Thursday, they remained in Miami due to Ferrer’s health complications. They are expected to visit the gallery next weekend, Tortora said.

The exhibition has previously traveled to Havana, Cuba, Providence and the Lincoln Center in New York City. It will remain in New Haven at Arte Inc. until Nov. 27.

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