Throckmorton Fine Art is delighted to showcase seven decades of iconic images from Cuba. The gallery has provided major support to exhibitions of Latin American contemporary photography for more than two decades and works tirelessly with leading artists to promote their interests.
Preface by Madeleine P. Plonsker / Author of “The Light in Cuban Eyes”
Cuba lies a tantalizing ninety miles off our southern shores. It is an island that has historically been both our friend and our enemy. Nevertheless, it has always hosted a most fascinating sky, which with changing weather conditions, allows the most perfect balance of light and shadow that has forever attracted both native and foreign born photographers.
Throckmorton Fine Art’s exquisite show, “Under the Cuban Sun” dramatically and intelligently helps us to draw the same conclusion: there is something about the quality of Cuban light that is different from any other Caribbean island’s offering. The brightness it produces is almost blinding. The shadow it creates is infinitely consuming. We look and are forced to look again. And that is what creates the drama of the photographs included in this carefully curated presentation.
The exhibition looks at both the Cuban eye and at its visitors’ eye and spans a period of time that is historic: the early 1930’s to present day. Beginning with Walker Evans and concluding with the work of Raúl Cañibano, we take a walk through time and space. They are the monumental bookends for our stroll. Walker Evans first photographed Cuba in the thirties. Raúl Cañibano is today’s masterful Cuban equivalent. Both have directed their gaze toward the nitty gritty of Cuban everyday life: the posed dockworker, the striding school boy. They look out at us with their body language that speaks volumes about the human condition; which without saying a word tells us everything.
The work of Jesse Fernandez records Havana at a pivotal time in its history: the years leading up to the Revolution in 1959. He shows us, in a photojournalist manner, the social scene of that time. Héctor García, Alberto Korda, and Rodrigo Moya memorialize the machismo of the young Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. And not until the 1990’s, when the Soviets withdraw their economic support and hunger arrives on the island, do Cuba’s photographers turn their cameras back to the population and their daily activities. And they do it at a time when both film and chemicals for printing are scarce as well. The “Special Period” begins and is boldly documented by Fernandez, and his peers: Mario Algaze, Juan Carlos Alom, and Raúl Cañibano. These masters of light and shadow make every shot count as there is no room for mistakes during the onset of such depurative times.
It is especially worthwhile to spend time investigating the intimate photos of daily life in Mario Algaze’s “From the Cuba Portfolio” taken during the year 2000. Algaze turns his focus to the quiet isolation that Cuba is experiencing eight years into the “Special Period.” His light capturing technique draws us into the silent despair of the Cuban people and the city that is decaying around them. Even the sea is not their friend, only a barrier that keeps them from crossing to safety. Also, included are the works by Susan S. Banks, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jane Cytryn, Graciela Iturbide, Joseph Ney, Michael Scalisi and Christophe Von Hohenberg.
The Throckmorton exhibition is both robust and intelligent. It captures Cuba at her best and at her worst. It does not flinch from showing us the truth about a beautiful, proud island documented during an almost eighty-five year period in its amazing and turbulent history. For the collector and for the scholar it connects all the spaces in between Cuba’s heyday and the Cuba of today.
Madeleine P. Plonsker / Author of “The Light in Cuban Eyes”