At the Venice Biennale: Atelier Morales, Tribute to Monet, 2013
Courtesy Nina Menocal Gallery

Cuban art and artists at Pulse New York. On a weekend that will see the Frieze, NADA, and PooL art fairs competing for visitors, anyone interested in Cuban art may want to make Pulse New York their first stop.Opening this Thursday, May 9 and running through Sunday, May 12, Pulse is hosting two of Havana’s top galleries: La Habana, spotlighting Lisett Castillo, Yoan Capote, and Carlos Quintana; and La Acacia, showing work by Esterio Segura and José Ángel Vincench. Also at Pulse: Pan American Art Projects, whose five artists on view include Abel Barroso.

At Pulse New York: José Ángel Vincench, Exilio I, 2013
Courtesy Galería La Acacia

Tonight in Chelsea: The Wrinkles of a City, Havana, CubaOpening just ahead of the fairs, this exhibition documents the installation presented by French street artist JR and his collaborator, Cuban-American artist José Parlá, as part of last year’s Havana Biennial. The duo mounted enormous black-and-white portraits of elderly Cubans on walls around the city, the expressive faces melding with the buildings’ surfaces. Presented at Bryce Walkowitz Gallery, the show includes 12 large portraits from the project, embellished with added color and calligraphic figuration by Parlá, as well as a site-specific installation. A documentary film about the project will also be screened. The show runs through July 12; tonight’s gallery reception begins at 6.

JR and José Parlá, Wrinkles of the City, La Habana: Félix Rivera Ramírez, 2012
Courtesy Bryce Walkowitz Gallery

Tomorrow night in Midtown: Cuban artists honored. Alexandre Arrechea, Tania Bruguera, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, and Los Carpinteros are among the 30 artists of the Americas to be honored at a dinner given by the Tate Americas Foundation, a private organization that raises support for the Tate museums. Presented at Skylight at Moynihan Station, an event space in the city’s main U.S. Post Office building, the fundraiser will also include a live auction and ticketed after-party. The roster of honored artists also includes Marina Abramovic, Vija Cemins, Roni Horn, Glenn Ligon, Bruce Nauman, Ernesto Neto, and Damian Ortega, among others.

Thursday night in Chelsea: Ediciones Vigía at Cuban Artists Space. Since the early 1990s, the Center for Cuban Studies has collected the handmade books produced by Ediciones Vigía in Mantanzas. Their last show of books from the collection took place in 2006, and Literary Gold: Ediciones Vigía Handcrafted Bookswill undoubtedly include many recent additions along with older gems. To quote the CAS website: “The books are wonders to behold and each page brings a surprise: a delicately rendered drawing, a pull-out “parchment” scroll with yarn to hang on a wall, paper dolls and other cutouts to enhance the work and enchant both children and grown-ups. Bits of driftwood and mesh cloth can surround cover titles, [and] carefully constructed and cut-out bookmarks are buried in many of the books.” Literary Gold opens with a reception this Thursday, May 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. The show runs through June 29.

Ana Mendieta: Late Works 1981-85

Friday night in Chelsea: Ana Mendieta: Late Works 1981-85 at Galerie Lelong. Featuring sculptures, drawings, photographs, mixed media works, and films, the exhibition traces Mendieta’s transition from ephemeral landscape pieces and their documentation to independent, stand-alone art objects. The late sculptures, for instance, translate her familiar silueta forms into objects that became less related to her own body or specific locations. Mendieta’s sister, Raquelin Mendieta, will attend the opening reception on Friday, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

Saturday night in Chelsea: Los Carpinteros at Sean Kelly. With installations, sculptures, and a performance video filling three gallery spaces, Los Carpinteros: Irreversible offers a broad look at the duo’s recent production and the directions they’ve been pursuing. In the first gallery, the installation Tomates references centuries of popular unrest through the image of rotten tomatoes, the time-honored projectile of discontented crowds. Other works include reinterpretations of Cold War monuments and buildings executed in Lego blocks; portraits of family members rendered in the iconic style of the backlit Che and Comrade Camilo portraits that are Havana landmarks; and the video Conga Irreversible, which documents the performance staged by the duo during last year’s Havana Biennial. That performance was a traditional comparsa by conga band and dancers, performed in reverse in every way: in black costumes instead of brilliant colors, with music and dance steps done backward as well. The exhibition opens this Saturday evening, May 11, with a reception from 6 to 9. The show runs through June 22.

Photo of Los Carpinteros’ 2012 performance work Conga Irreversible, presented at last year’s Havana Biennial.
Photo by Ignacio Barrios, courtesy Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Zurich

And in Europe…Tonight in Barcelona. Tasneem Gallery is hosting a reception for Ernesto Leal and Myanmar-born Htein Lin, the artists in its current show, El Fragmento Eliminado (The Removed Fragment). In this exhibition, the two artists consider what the gallery calls “spaces of exclusion and silence containing very well defined rules of obedience,” responding with works that pose alternatives to that repressive vision. Leal’s word- and text-based art here includes the printing of his piece Intuition 1 and an installation, The Removed Fragment. As he explains: “We sense the world through rankings and words that we remember . . . We interact more with words than with factual realities.” Tonight’s reception starts at 7:30; the exhibition runs through June 30.

And on to Venice. This just in: Glenda Léon has confirmed her participation in the Cuban Pavilion at the 55th Venice Bienale, which previews May 29-31 and officially opens June 1. Other artists invited to participate include Sandra Ramos, Liudmila and Nelson, María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard, Tonel, and Lázaro Saavedra. Curated by Jorge Fernández Torres and Giacomo Zaza, the Cuban Pavilion will be presented at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia in the Palazzo Reale.

And from Nina Menocal Gallery in Mexico City comes news that Atelier Morales (Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Morales) will also participate in the Biennale. Curators Sarah Gold and Karling De Jong chose the artmaking duo for their group show Personal Structures, which brings together artists of diverse cultures and ages to explore ideas of time, space, and existence. The exhibition—part of an ongoing project initiated in 2002—will be presented in the Palazzo Bembo. The 28 artists in the show include Yoko Ono, Hermann Nitsch, Suh Jeong Min of South Korea, and Faiza Butt of Pakistan.

And Basel. Armando Mariño brings news of a solo exhibition at Volta9 Basel, a contemporary art fair coinciding with Art Basel. As with the New York edition of Volta earlier this year during Armory Week, Mariño’s Basel show will be presented by 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel. Volta9 Basel runs June 10-15. Closer to home, Mariño is also participating in Body as Landscape, a group show that opens this Sunday, May 12 at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, New York. The reception is from 5 to 7 p.m.; the show runs through July 18.

Guillermo Portieles in Havana. The eroded and collapsing state of much of Havana’s historical architecture has captured the imaginations of several artists—among them Guillermo Portieles, whose exhibition Havana: Enigma of the Ruins opens at the Fototeca de Cuba this Friday evening. Portieles’ black-and-white photographs are the starting point for a variety of interventions—painting, drawing, collage—which result in works that poetically examine the relationships between nature and the built environment, memory and forgetting. The 11 pieces on view “speak to us of the durable, the persistence of human works,” writes the show’s curator Dennys Matos. “In a way they become a record, the pulse of lives and histories that fight to survive the ravages of time.” The exhibition runs through June 10; the reception on Friday begins at 7 p.m.

Guillermo Portieles, Ruina Arboles, 2012

Video Art in SF. Alexandre Arrechea, Humberto Diaz, Felipe Dulzaides, and Luis Gárciga are among the 15 artists whose work is showcased in ¡Oye Mira! Reflective Approaches in Contemporary Latin American Video Art. Coming from five countries—Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru, as well as Cuba—the artists share a common interest in using video to explore issues of identity in relation to place, history, and memory. Curated by artist and SFAI faculty member Tony Labat, the show is on view at the Walter & McBean Galleries of the San Francisco Art Institute through June 8.

Chévere! in Cambridge, MA. At the Multicultural Arts Center, Chévere! Exploring Afro-Cuban Culture brings together four New York-based visual artists—Clara Morera, Jesus (Cepp) Selgas, Bernardo Navarro, and Jorge Valdés—whose works range from depictions of Yoruba icons to abstrace interpretations of African heritage. Organized with Latin Art Space and curated by Astrid Martínez-Jones, the show is on view through July 15. A reception for the artists is scheduled for Thursday, May 16, 6-8 p.m.

Choco in New Jersey. Last summer, we wrote about another show at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge: Retazos del sol (Traces of the Sun), a solo exhibition by the Afro-Cuban artist Choco (Eduardo Roca). This week, that show opens at the Valley Arts Firehouse Gallery in Orange, New Jersey. An appreciation of Afro-Cuban religions, ethnic diversity, and the economic challenges of daily life in Cuba are among the themes explored in Choco’s colorful, highly textured work. An opening reception for the artist will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. this Thursday, May 9, and Choco will also be on hand for an artist’s talk at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. The show runs through June 23.