SPARTANBURG, SC.- Upstate Gallery on Main
, sponsored by the University of South Carolina Upstate, is presenting Selections from the Clyde Hensley Collection of East Cuban Art. The exhibition opened on January 10 and runs through February 23, 2019.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Clyde Hensley collected over 500 pieces of art from the semiisolated, easternmost region of Cuba called Oriente, formerly referred to as Oriente Province. Upon Hensley's first trip to Oriente as part of a cultural exchange and humanitarian aid project, he found the local artists constrained yet energized by shortages of art supplies and thus creating inspired improvisations. "When I met them," Hensley recalls, "they were painting on sugar and flour bags. They needed supplies. So I began taking them everything I could: canvas, paint, brushes, you name it. These are artists who paint because they have to. It's in their hearts.
Soon after discovering these artists of eastern Cuba, Hensley and his wife Brigid began making regular visits to the area, delivering art materials from village to village. To do this, Hensley established the Eastern Cuba Cultural Exchange Association, enabling him to take in supplies and, at the same time, acquire a unique collection of artworks directly from the artists. In 2006, Art and Antiques Magazine nominated Hensley and his wife for inclusion into the Top 100 Collectors of Art in America.
Included in the exhibition are three artists that exemplify the diversity, vibrance, and range of the collection: Jorge Rodriguez Cedeño, Jorge Luis Hernández Pouyú, and José Julián Aguilera Vicente. Jorge Rodriguez Cedeño was born in Bayamo, Cuba in 1973 and obtained prominence through his specialty of classical Cuban landscape painting. His paintings evoke the spirit of the Cuban countryside, portraying the campesinos, the peasant farmers and their way of life, beautifully capturing the unique atmosphere of this tropical region. Works by Jorge Rodriguez Cedeño were included in the recent 4-year tour of the U.S. titled Cuba Oriente: Contemporary Painting from Eastern Cuba.
Jorge Luis Hernández Pouyú, born in 1967, first studied art at the José Joaquín Tejada School of Visual Arts. In 1985 he moved to Havana, where he joined the Eduardo Abela Experimental Painting Workshop and worked at the Rene Portocarrero Silkscreen Workshop, affiliated with the Cuban Cultural Foundation. He participated in the Julio Le Parc Workshop and the 2nd Biennial of Havana in1986. Hernández Pouyú currently lives and works in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba.
José Julián Aguilera Vicente (1933-2013) received his artistic education at the José Joaquín Tejada Academy, where he subsequently worked as a director and instructor for generations of painters, sculptors and engravers. He also taught at the Normal School, the Higher Education Institute of Santiago de Cuba, and Eastern University. Aguilera was one of the founders of the Artistic Collective in Oriente and a member of the Gallery Group, a collective that revolutionized arts in Santiago during the 1950s. He was included in 11 solo exhibitions internationally and participated in more than 100 group exhibitions in Cuba.
Gallery director Jane Nodine said, In our continued efforts to promote the Upstate Gallery on Main as an outreach venue to the community, I am pleased we were able to connect with the Center for International Studies and offer an exhibit representing works of artists from Cuba. We welcome the chance to showcase international exhibits.