Ludwig Forum Aachen | Jülicher Str. 97-109 | D -52070 Aachen |Germany
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The collection of Peter and Irene Ludwig includes one of the first and largest selections of contemporary Cuban art in Europe. This part of the collection offers a unique view into the visual arts of the Caribbean state since the 1980s and 1990s, the latter period today euphemistically called the “Special Period in Time of Peace.”
With the exhibition Art x Cuba. Contemporary Perspectives since 1989, the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst Aachen presents for the first time—thanks to the generous support of the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation and the German Federal Cultural Foundation—the Aachen collection together with Cuban art of today, creating a complex exchange that opens up a discussion on the aesthetic, thematic and formal development of Cuban art since 1989. Furthermore, the exhibition and the accompanying publication also seek to raise questions about the relationships between culture and politics, art and the market, globalization, and power.
The exhibition Kuba o.k. – Aktuelle Kunst aus Kuba [Cuba o.k. – Current Art from Cuba] at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1990 marks the beginning of the Ludwigs’ interest and long-lasting relationship with Cuban art. Following the exhibition, which took place on the initiative of the then director of the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Jürgen Harten, Peter and Irene Ludwig purchased a large number of the works of art shown in Cuba o.k.
Art x Cuba in part revisits this historic show and undertakes a reassessment, asking how the reception of the paintings, sculptures, and installations has changed in the more than 25 years that have passed since their acquisition. What themes remain relevant? How have artistic strategies and practices developed since then? To what extent and in which form has Cuban art participated in the developments in Western art since the 20th century and where has it broken new ground? And in how far can a Western understanding of formal and aesthetic criteria be applied to it?
This approach generates multiple sets of relationships. Firstly, it places the works from the historical exhibition next to the Cuban works of art acquired by the Ludwig Collection in the years following Cuba o.k. A second, and clearly larger, set of relationships consists in the addition of the contemporary Cuban works, which similarly to those presented in the 1990 exhibition, lay claim to being representative of the current art scene in Cuba. The convergence of these relationships in Art x Cuba offers a deeper look into the development of the Cuban visual arts and the history of their reception throughout the last three decades, a time characterized by drastic economic changes and social challenges in Cuba, triggered in part by larger geopolitical developments that had a profound effect on the island nation.
Against the backdrop of and in the context of Peter and Irene Ludwig’s initiative in Cuba, the longstanding support of the Cuban art scene by the Fundación Ludwig de Cuba and the Ludwigs’ acknowledgment of the importance of a continuous and sustainable exchange between Cuba and Germany, the exhibition Art x Cuba—which presents the work of 71 artists—offers a comprehensive overview of roughly 30 years of Cuban art history. At the present time what is for Cuba a key historical juncture, the show aims to stimulate a new and even deeper cultural dialogue between Cuba and Germany, one that is of relevance for our contemporary concerns.
Artists: Belkis Ayón, José Bedia, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, Celia – Yunior, Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo, Felipe Dulzaides, Tomás Esson, Adrián Fernández, Rocío García, Tony Labat, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Lázaro Saavedra, José A. Toirac, among others
Curators: Antonio Eligio (Tonel) and Andreas Beitin