Artist Statement 2008



I am Cuban by birth, Spanish by blood, and American by choice. Since I began painting, my artistic vocabulary has centered on the exploration of these identities. Like many Cuban-American artists of my generation, I have used the feelings of exile and alienation, assimilation and rebirth, struggle and triumph, as the foundations of my work.

While most artists pursue artistic originality, I intentionally deny it by appropriating images from the old masters – Goya, Velasquez, Bosch and Ingres – to name a few. My aim is to establish a dialogue between them and myself and to experiment with the tensions between artists at opposite ends of the spectrum and separated by considerable amounts of time. Ironically, over the years, my very denial of artistic originality through my appropriation of images has produced an extensive and original body of work. Integrating these outside images into my paintings also reflects my struggle to integrate into a country in which I often feel I don’t belong. It can be as difficult to “fit” an image into a painting – to make it work – as it is to fit into a society that frequently feels alien.

I have never consciously given much thought to how leaving Cuba at an early age might have affected me as an adult. It is only when I begin a new work, searching through images from the past to reshape, redraw, and repaint and then try to find a place for them in my canvas, that I begin to wonder if I am trying to connect with something familiar, something remembered, maybe even something innate. In the end, I make them fit and once they do, the work is finished. Then I start all over again.