The exposition of Rocío García: the return of Jack the Punisher, exhibited from August until the first week of September in the Galería Habana, of Vedado, fascinates and surprises because of the composite work of the canvases, the insinuating beauty of every frame, and the recreating an old horror story through images that fantasize and refresh, from a feminine gaze, that series of deaths that implicated the English police in America at the end of the 20th century.
In this free version pictorial saga, the artist revives, draws, cheats and subjects to the spectrum of Jack Kimberland — the hypothetical Jack the Ripper — that Irishman who in 1888 stayed in a London hotel before being deported on suspicion of murder, after which he settled in a suburb of New York, where he was followed by the London police to confirm that the bodies of mutilated prostitutes corresponded to the profile of the Irish fugitive, who emerged as a great serial murderer.
As noted by Corina Matamoros in the catalog, “Jack the Punisher’s back. A red forest, with pure white rabbits crouched, saw him arrive armed, fierce, beautifully androgynous. His outlined body … will infiltrate the bar as usual, concealed among drinkers. In his lap he holds, with maiden sweetness, the rabbit of love, while looking thoughtfully at the mirage of a naked lady, sprawled on a sidewalk, sipping his Caipiroshka.”
The Jack of the 14 paintings by Rocío García is exceeded before being surprised, victim of such tempting beauties and the mirages of black magic and white magic. He punishes and is punished without thinking in Niki Cheng, a character invented by the brush to free the rabbit, who finally breaks his bonds and goes in a boat down the river, a metaphor for love and the interchanges between history, swords, pistols, sensuality and fierceness. All mixed by the mastery of the artist, friend of film mirages served in brilliant and unique colors.
Rocío García de la Nuez (Santa Clara, 1955), graduated from the Academy of Arts in San Alejandro, in The Habana (1977) and achieved the title of Master of Beautiful Arts in the Academy of Répin, San Petersberg (1983). Currently he is a professor of painting in the Academy of San Alejandro. He has shown his creative works in many personal and collective expositions within and outside of Cuba.
Among his personal offerings are The Tamer and Other Stories (Habana Gallery, JM 2003. Arts, Paris, 2005); Haikus (Sancti Spiritus Gallery, 2004); La Dama de la patica caliente (Havana Galerie, Zurich); and The Thriller , Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, both in 2007; Very, Very Light (Light Galleries and Suarez del Villar, Madrid, and La Casona, Havana, 2010), and Hidden Things (Sidney Mishkin Gallery Baruch College, New York, 2011).
His works have been in the Havana Auction and dozens of group shows at the Havana Biennial and other international events, among them the Caribbean:Crossroads of the World, Queens Museum of Art, New York, 2012; Cuban Pictures (Wilfredo Lam Center ); Contemporary Cuban Art in Beijing; and Madrid Art Fair in 2010; Dear Van Gogh and Abstract Art Project (Havana, 2009); We Ar Porno, Yes. First Annual of Porno Art (Space Aglutinador, Havana, 2008); Four Decades Before the Mirror (Paris, 2004); and Cuban Artists (Ricoleta Cultural Center, Buenos Aires, 2001).
September 12 2012
A week before I presented for the first time my Petition for Foreign Travel in the territorial Office of Immigration and Aliens of Guanabacoa, northeast of Havana, a young official from the State Security went to interrogate my younger son in the National Neurosciences Center, where he works as an investigator. The alleged negotiator wanted to know if I intended to travel with my wife to Spain on a temporary or permanent basis, for the purpose of “promoting my case.”
June 12, three months after such humiliating request and receiving on five occasions the answer: “Refused, you appear on the list of those who cannot travel abroad” — I again presented myself at the immigration office with a document in which I demanded an explanation for such prohibition. That day, the same official who interrogated my younger son at the Neurosciences Center, flew on his Suzuki motorcycle to the home of my older son who lives in El Cotorro and works as a lawyer for the municipal collective office. On that occasion, he tried to explore my possible actions and promised “to expedite the exit.”
At the beginning of November I still have not received an answer to my claim from Major Gricet Alleguis, Chief of the Territorial Office of Immigration in Guanabacoa, nor from Lieutenant Colonel Dania Gonzalez Rodriguez, to whom I delivered a copy of my claim at the National Directorate of Immigration and Aliens, located at 22 and 3ra, Miramar, Havana. Latal Dania advised me that they reserve “the right to give no explanation. . .”
Between June and October, I believe in August, a young official nicknamed Simon knocked at the door of my apartment in downtown Havana, with a citation for an “exploratory contact” with the first operational officer against independent journalism. After the brief and respectful “contact,” achieved at the Police Station located on Dragons Street, Old Havana township, it was clear that I would not leave Cuban if I did not present the petition for “Permanent Exit from the country” instead of the “Permit to Travel Abroad.” The said Simon was a “facilitator” and even gave me his telephone number so that I or one of my sons could communicate to him the beginning of the new process.
Last October 2, I presented the said “Permanent Exit” at the Office of Immigration and Aliens at 17 and K, Vedado, in spite of the expiration of my family reunification visa issued in March by the Spanish Consulate in Havana, which was kind enough to grant me a new visa in less than a month. On presenting myself with the visa on the first of November, an employee repeated to me the film’s chorus: “Refused, you appear on the list of those who cannot travel abroad.”
What list is that? Under what law is it issued? Why does the Castro regime cling to protecting the life of individuals, refusing them the right of free movement, choosing where to live and leave or enter any country, including their own?
I suppose that the Immigration and Alien Unit of Plaza will know how to answer my questions Wednesday the 7th of November at 1 pm. Otherwise I will begin to fight for my freedom in the streets of Havana. Maybe the game of the foreman against the runaway slave will advance or they will put me in stocks in order to comply with the blacklist of the excluded ones, those daring ones who raise their voices personally and try to leave the herd.
Translated by mlk
November 4 2012
After a month of rehearsal, Il Gruppetto presented on August 31st at 5:00 pm, in the old Palacio de las Cariátides del Malecón de La Habana, their spectacular Showtime, the universe of musical theater, which reinvents our Broadway-styled musical and attempts to “offer the original creators’ point of view and fill them, transform it with our own while still being faithful to the fable, the characters, the scores, to the sublime duty of the interpreter to say the song, to tell the story through the musical notes”, according to David Guerra, scenic artistic director.
Besides David Guerra, also in charge of the selection, translation and adaptation of the shows; Ubaíl Zamora, musical director; Lynet Rivero in the choreography, Livan Albelo as assistant director and costume designer and art director, Marcel Mendez the lighting, Edwin Ramirez and Maikel Gonzalez makeup and hair design, and John C. Millán in photography and promotion, as well as Raul Coyula in sound and Alexey Sallet in the lights make up the creative team.
The audience that packed the Sala Loynaz room of the current Spanish American Culture Center (Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura) did not enjoy a common concert or theatrical performance with a logical order, but “scenes and moments drawn from some of the most relevant works of this specific kind of representation, … divided into pictures by theme or by composers, with profiles of various parts and the genre itself as the guiding thread”.
Among the artists that come out of the dressing room and blow magic dust over the eyelids of the viewers are the young people of Il Gruppetto, directed by the above-mentioned Ubaíl Zamora and composed of singer-actors of the National Lyric Theater of Cuba (Teatro Lírico Nacional de Cuba), including Laura D’Mare, Indira Echavarría, Olivia Méndez, Teresa J. Pérez, Cristina Rodríguez, Assari Sende, Laura Ulloa, Ernesto Cabrera, Javier Olanguren, Dayron Peralta, Edwin Ramírez, Ernesto Leyva and Leo Cuervo; who invited Marcel Méndez, from Teatro de la Luna, and Lesby A. Bautista, Ernesto Herrera and Frank Ledesma, singers from the Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine.
The program shaped by David Guerra favored the deployment of the concerns, energies and talents of young people who personalized the originating pieces of a genre that requires renovation among us, with the purpose of oxygenating the Cuban musical theater and betting on diversity, the differences and connection with other nurturing sources that will raise spirituality without forgetting that the theater is magic and fun.
This journey to the musical, of galloping rhythm, grace and unusual virtuosity, included in its program pieces like The Transgressors, Chicago, Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Show, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent, Moulin Rouge and Les Miserables.
Despite the choreographic recreation surprises, the scenic displacements, the vocal virtuosity of various interpreters and the connection with the public, this show needs to be exhibited in September or October in rooms with better acoustics and more space, such as the Mella or the Trianón. For its quality, creative daring, and public reception, it would be worth another season in another location. Thousands of habaneros will be grateful. Successes!
Translated by: Billy Shyne (Boston College ’15)
September 13 2012