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Specimen Lost in a Tropical Island

“In a tract of land surrounded by water, history and fiction are easily confused on a daily basis.
Our history began to be recorded the day Christopher Columbus landed in my province, Holguin, Cuba, in 1492. Apparently, this is how Columbus “discovered” America.  Since his arrival, a series of historical events shaped our identity and created what we called Cubans. Most of these events happened as a consequence of decisions made by rulers such as Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. 

A few centuries later, there was a time when ships stopped coming to the country and started leaving. Resources were limited, and people were in survival mode. The lack of material goods led to an explosion of creativeness. Cubans were able to keep 50-year-old cars in working order, they built houses in the narrowest spaces, and they created art almost from nothing. 

The youngest generation of Cubans emerged at a time where creativeness was part of the identity of the nation. A new generation, now more open to change and acceptance than the past one, is the hope of building a future for Cuba.

In this series, I am portraying the youngest generation of Cubans, who are the future of the country. The models, apparently dressing in sumptuous costumes symbolizing the relationship of past and present, are using regular objects found in their homes such as kitchen towels, curtains, table covers, bedspreads, plastic bags, clothes pegs, and stainless steel scouring pads. The photographs recreate what power means by using repurposed objects to depict minorities.

This series extends the concept of the uncertainty of what real power means. It is about expanding the meaning of power and constructing hope- the hope to be, the hope to succeed, and the hope of being remembered.”

Carlos Gamez de Francisco

Cuban born artist Carlos Gamez de Francisco paints opulent, highly saturated portraits of women that reference fashion illustration and the decorative arts.  

His unique visual language results in canvases dripping with dewy-skinned models, gem-toned flora and fauna, and richly patterned textiles.  His method of applying watercolor to canvas gives these images a sense of immediacy that matches the youthfulness and vigor of his subject matter while conjuring a sense of playfulness and innocence.

Gamez de Francisco received his BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 and has consistently exhibited work nationally and internationally since. He has work in many private and public collections including the 21c Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Cuba Ocho Museum & Performing Art Center in Miami, Florida. Gamez de Francisco has won numerous awards and commissions including a mural for Google and LVA. 

Seated Girl With A Pearl Earring, archival pigmented print, 24 x 36

Seated Girl With A Pearl Earring, archival pigmented print, 24 x 36

Portrait Of A Woman Without A Basket Of Spindles, chromaluxe aluminum print, 24 x 36

Portrait Of A Woman Without A Basket Of Spindles, chromaluxe aluminum print, 24 x 36