ALLOYS: a Cuban-American Tale
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Belonging to a family, a group, a race, or a country, is an artificial though tempting idea, even for the most independent of free spirits. As false as it is, in the pursuit of this artificial sense of belonging, fighting to be accepted and rebelling against it, artists shape themselves. We humans are social beings: gregarious mammals forced, by default, to create and develop bonds. Art is nothing but a social practice. “Belonging" and "bonding" are arguably the key words of any human (artistic) narrative.
Sérverus, a Cuban-American artistic joint venture, embodies those concepts in a very particular way. The group is a result of friendship and aesthetic common ground, two concepts that while pivotal to developing bonds and a sense of belonging, fall very short from being identical or unanimous. None are processes of blending into the other or changing oneself, but of finding a true self throughout a nurturing dialogue with the (un)familiar otherness. Friendship and art are all about expressing freely and building bridges in the path of founding an identity. Therefore, the art exhibited at “Alloys” is more a creative alliance than a productive fusion. It is a bonding in which all elements change and interact without producing a distinctive common product in a traditional sense, dissolving or obliterating authorship into a totally new one like many other collaborative endeavors. We must consume Sérverus’ art as a three-headed project, a trans-vanguard aesthetic manifesto, or an umbrella under which these talented emergent artists operate, becoming stronger as a team without losing their identities.
For that reason, the lower floor of ConcreteSpace is devoted to highlight their differences (that particular alloy that bonds them and still keeps them apart), in a more intimate fashion. In the upper floor their work is displayed as an assemblage of those differences into a more ambitious extroverted narrative, forged through visual storytelling: their Cuban-American culture.
A Cuban-American story of art and life is nothing else other than an American tale. There are many ways of belonging to the American way of life, and in “Alloys: A Cuban-American Tale,” three plots are intertwined to create a large-scope narrative, exposing their own private stories, which are familiar to almost every immigrant or native in this country.
Observe Lotti’s radiography of the “efichensi” (a vernacular pronunciation of efficiency), that affordable living space that has become the door to the American dream for many immigrants and crucial to understanding the sociology of Cuban-American immigration; or Miguel Saludes’ pixilation and augmentation of reality, enlarging the American landscape, from a field of flowers to a concrete wall, scrutinizing the surrounding, processing its dualities to the limits of abstraction until digested into a totally new identity; or Labañino’s contractile reality that merges different points of view into the same plane, allowing blurred memories and details to coexist in the same space. These three artists are crossed by their hyphenated identities, Cuban-Americans belonging and bonding like most of us, challenging traditional painting to express their personal journey into a new ecosystem, a journey that we are from now on thankful they shared with us.
Joaquin Badajoz | Manhattan | 2017
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
"Our pursuit of authenticity and our desire to dignify our Latin-American heritage through our work, are ingrained in the name we have adopted for the group. Sérverus is a play on words stemming from the Latin term “ser verus," which signifies “being truthful." The accented e is a stylization paying homage to the Spanish language which we speak from birth. The name also alludes to the mythical beast Cerberus, three-headed guardian of the underworld. This fabled creature is, succinctly, a final symbolic alloy, which bestows us the freedom to exercise our multifaceted identity, as well as the tenacity to protect Painting’s legacy and our roots.
Labañino, Lotti, Saludes | Miami | 2017
Labañino, son of Honduran and Cuban immigrant parents was born in Miami, Florida in 1989. He studied painting in Miami Dade College and later in Florida International University. He currently resides and works in Miami, Florida.
Lotti was born in Cuba in 1989 and immigrated to the United States at the age of 11. He studied painting in Miami Dade College, Florida International University and the University of Florida. He lives and works in Miami, Florida.
Saludes was born in Cuba in 1989 and immigrated to the United States in 2005 with his family. He studied painting in Miami Dade College, Florida International University, and the University of Florida. He lives and works in Naples, Florida.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Badajoz is a Cuban-American art critic and writer. He contributes to publications like El Nuevo Herald, La Opinion of Los Angeles, and El Diario Nueva York. Throughout the course of two decades, his curatorial work has grown to span over thirty exhibitions—in countries like Cuba, Panama, and the US—as both an independent Manhattan-based curator, and as part of curatorial teams. His reviews, essays, and culture theories on art and literature have been published in ArtPulse, Wynwood Magazine, ArteCubano, LaGaveta, El Panamá América, La Prensa, Vitral, Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, RANLE, Cuadernos de ALDEEU, Hispania, and many others. Badajoz is a member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language and has lectured at the University of Warsaw (Poland), Instituto Castellano y Leonés de Lengua (Spain), UCIP-UCLAP, Refresher Program (Peru), Altos de Chavón School of the Arts (Dominican Republic), as well as several institutions in the United States. He has been executive editor for Cosmopolitan, Front Page editor of Yahoo!, and Digital Content Manager at Impremedia.