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International Artist Carlos Garaicoa Opens East Central Gallery with an Exhibition on Architecture, Politics and Power
© Garaicoa, Courtesy of Continua/San Gimignano and East Central/London.

LONDON.- For its inaugural show, East Central Gallery will present The Point, the Line and the Plan, an exhibition of new works by Carlos Garaicoa, one of Cuba’s leading contemporary artists. This will be Garaicoa’s first solo show in London.

In characteristic style, Garaicoa takes the initial ideas of architecture, politics and power, and through his artwork, provides a platform to provoke debate around these issues. In his constant search for representation of a complex yet subtle political stance, the artist utilizes photographs on metal and stucco, videos, drawing boards populated with delicate paper cuts, sculpture and lightbox installations.

For Carlos Garaicoa, the artist’s role is to search for new meanings through the artistic practice, and create new vocabularies in order to discuss social and political issues, firmly believing in the artist’s moral obligation towards society:

“The visual arts, like literature, music, or any other artistic language, are platforms on which to discuss social and political issues, and for exercising our critical commitment towards society. I believe in art that is still capable of creating meaning, where the role of an artist and an intellectual as bearer of that meaning is the most important component. Supreme beauty can originate and be extracted from that social commitment.” Carlos Garaicoa.

His work is an appeal to leave “...our peaceful and comfortable chair in our private libraries and compel us to action.”

A son of the Revolution, Garaicoa (born 1967) has questioned the urban reality of Havana, the city where he was born and where he still lives, from its historic colonial splendor to today’s degraded state of ruin; a state that reflects the transition from the magnificence of the past to the loss of historical memory of the present, which, in the artist’s view, is beyond repair.

Adopting his birth city as his main source of inspiration, the artist has developed an approach to the artistic medium where Havana is at the heart of his research and is used as a metaphor for human existence.

In his ongoing investigation, the artist raises questions about humanity and society - independently from any specific geographic and political set-up, he challenges our perceptions and suggests we might take into account how uncivilized our world has become.

“Although many of the images in the show were taken in Havana - my hometown - my work addresses and represents universal topics. We should not read local discourses here, Paris is not Paris and Havana is not just Havana, just like the Point is not only geometrical, the Line can frequently become a border we should cross and the Plan is yet to be conceived…” Carlos Garaicoa

Having spent the past two decades exploring the concept of architecture as a measure of society, Garaicoa draws parallels between social idealism and reality, and illustrates the story of Havana from the grandeur of the past to the decadence of today.

Garaicoa’s work is both anecdotal and narrative, his language is multilayered and polyphonic; critical, poetic and nostalgic, and his oeuvre reflects fragments of urban planning of the past into the future. Reflecting on the sometimes tragic, sometimes happy endings, he questions the “unconsciousness” of the contemporary town.

Garaicoa’s fascination with architecture and humanity results in an ongoing juxtaposition between his native Havana and Utopia, the imaginary island described by Sir Thomas Moore (1516) in his fundamental philosophical dissertation, where citizens enjoy a perfect political and social existence. However, Garaicoa’s vision of Utopia is far from perfect. He portrays a distorted Utopia, demonstrating how architecture is a force capable of altering the course of history. Modernism, with its aim at being a catalyst for social change, is the face of the failure of the 20th century Cuban utopia.

In Garaicoa’s artistic intervention, the town is reinvented and finds new meanings; his films, drawings, models, sculptures, installations, photographic and architectural actions physically change the urban make-up and preserve the flavor of what was lost under the Socialist revolution. The artist intervenes on the body of the city with a surgeon’s eye, and the buildings, streets, fragments and ruins are looked at as the parts of the body, constantly bearing witness to the town’s fragility and precarious essence.

Garaicoa has been practicing since the early 1990s. He is internationally renowned for having participated in some of the most significant events in the contemporary art world: the Johannesburg Biennal in 1995, the Gwangju Biennal in 1997, the Sao Paulo Biennal in 1998, and the V, VI and VII Havana Biennales, as well as the first Yokohama Triennial in 2001. In 2002 Garaicoa was invited to participate in Kassel’s Documenta 11, marking a pivotal moment in his career. Garaicoa’s works have been shown in major public and private institutions, including the Fundacion Ludwig de Cuba, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Castello di Rivoli, Italy, and, most recently, he had a solo project at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Castleford.

He is currently exhibiting at the 53rd Venice Biennale in the Latin American pavilion, and his solo show is currently ongoing at the Blandy Le Tours Castle in France.

Carlos Garaicoa’s works are in numerous public collections, including: MOMA, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Tate Modern, London; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; MACBA, Barcelona; Musée Européenne de la Photographie, Paris.

East Central Gallery | The Point | the Line and the Plan | Carlos Garaicoa |

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