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The how and why of pinnacle or decline according to Flavio Garciandía / El cómo y el por qué del auge o la decadencia, según Flavio Garciandía
The how and why of pinnacle or decline according to Flavio Garciandía
Ninth Havana Biennale
Instruction manual
Contemporary Cuban Art

The how and why of pinnacle or decline
according to Flavio Garciandía


“I invite you to collaborate in my exhibition PINNACLE OR DECLINE OF CUBAN ART in the Fine Arts Museum. This will consist of painting a band of flat colour from “my colour chart” on a canvas of 1.50 x 20 metres in a process that will last two weeks from Saturday 18th March and that will then be photographed and printed so as to produce a DVD to commemorate the event. I call on artists resident in Cuba or abroad of all generations whether they have enjoyed some recognition or not yet within the world of contemporary art. If the actual moment turns out to be pinnacle or decline is not for me to judge as, anyway, both conditions can co-exist. I am simple trying to exercise the possible power of convocation that I might have with the participating artists so as to induce or provoke some critical reflection on the theme.”

The ‘How’
In recognition of the truth that things are best related through facts and not the interpretation of facts, I must state that everything started in the summer of 2005 when Flavio Garciandía, José Gómez de Artaiz (close friend and major collector of his work) and myself talked of the already urgent need for a retrospective in Cuba of the artist’s work.

I don’t need to give all the reasons. It’s enough to assert that Flavio Garciandía de Oraá (Caibarién, Cuba, 1954) is the one artist who, since the end of the 1970s has provided an essential reference and conceptual basis for an understanding of contemporary Cuban art. His influence has never been interrupted either in physical time or aesthetic space. He has always drawn from an astonishing creative capacity of both quantity and quality; he is versatile without ever losing the conceptual hold of his own research and of post modernity. He is sustained by a solid intellectual training and has spread his influence internationally both through his works and his teaching. Seen thus, Flavio Garciandía has proved to be invulnerable.

Given the weight of these arguments and administrative decisions being taken into account, the National Fine Arts Museum agreed to an exhibition of the artists’ work to take place during the 2006 Havana Biennale though at that point his actual concept had still not been discussed. How could Flavio’s presence in the museum be denied after a twelve year absence when, moreover, his works are paradigms of contemporary art galleries? What was being offered to the museum would be very attractive and they knew it.

The project took shape night after night (all those of us involved are nocturnal) and it took a definite shape including the list of invited artists during February 2006. At that time we were talking of a work in process not only for the fortnight when the public could see Flavio and his guests at work but by the very process of thinking through every detail and dynamically moderating it over the weeks. Flavio’s long stay in Cuba between 2005 and 2006, also provided him guidelines for analysis and reorientation within the artistic community not only of the visual arts but also music, film, literature and theatre. The title Pinnacle or Decline... came out of the understanding of the extremes that artists live with...

+ information pág. 106-111 The H Book 2007 08

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