Anthea McGibbon, Gleaner Writer
Cuban female models sport designs by top designer Emiliano Nelson. From left are Alma Irizar Garcia, Dwight Peters, Ludmila Pelez Naranjo, Emiliano Nelson, Yixam Valle Bacallao and Cicelys Zelies Armenteros. - photo by Stephen Jones
Both Spanish and Latinos are known for their strong artistic expressions, and Jamaica, which this year celebrates 40 years of diplomatic relations with Spain, recently got a full dose of Spanish art and culture.
An exhibition of Spanish art, titled 'Spain, Contemporary Art', was opened at the National Gallery, downtown Kingston. More than just a showcase, the exhibition, presented jointly by the gallery, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and the Embassy of Spain in Jamaica, was mounted to honour the good relations the two countries have shared.
His Excellency Ambassador Jesús Silva, internationally renowned for his achievements in cultural patrimony, said that the exhibition "offers an excellent introduction to the work of the heirs of the great Spanish artists."
Addressing the over 200 art aficionados in attendance, Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson, in his address, challenged Ambassador Silva to create opportunities for exhibitions of Jamaican art in Spain.
Over 26 pieces by some of Span's most prominent contemporary artists comprised the show. The carefully selected pieces were
sourced and mounted by noted art curator, Javier Aiguabella.
In the first room, are old and classical masters, while the second room features a generation of contemporary artists that link the first and second generations. In the third room are the younger artists, exploring more modern media.
It is in the third room though, that the riveting photographic work by Cristina Garc'a Rodero's titled, 'Hacia el sacrificio Plain du Nord' (2000), is found. This features a boy with a ram on his shoulders. Not only is the media powerfully used in capturing the mood of the subject, but the tonal values are as also strong. Attention was paid to texture and lines in the overall composition.
Various aspects of Spanish life captured include dance as well as art. Sculptor Andreu Alfaro's in 'Laocoonte VI' uses lines, angles, and spaces to create movement. This reflect the lightness of the artis's mind as much as the liberties of his culture, which he has been commenting on for nearly 60 years.
Other spectacular pieces are by Manola Millares, Francisco Leiro, (a 2007 untitled) Gerardo Rueda (untitled in walnut and pine wood) and Luis Feito (untitled acrylic on canvas).
The video installation titled, 'El sueno de todo artistas' (any artists dream) held some persons spellbound with artist Eugenio Ampudia illustrating the movements of cover sheets during one's sleep, unto a bed with projected lit images.
Fashion as art
Seeking opportunities to promote the shared dynamics of Jamaican and Cuban art, especially where fine arts and fashion are concerned, Cuban Ambassador, Gisela Garcia Rivera turned the focus of cultural celebrations to fashion.
Choreographed by Saint International's CEO, Dweight Peters, just over
100 pieces, some cut from Cuban-made cotton fabric were exhibited at a recently held fashion show put on by the Cuban Embassy. The aim to showcase fashion as an artform.
Pieces by leading Cuban fashion designers Emiliano Nelson Guerra Martin and Carmen Fiol de La Cruz, and Jamaican designer Neah-Lis demonstrated the calibre of Caribbean talent in dedicating the "applied art" to clothing design. At the same time, the Saint models strutted signature walk styles, confident that the simple elegance of the Cuban designs accentuated their figures, as much as they swirled in the Caribbean flair of Jamaican designer, Neah-Lis.
Nelson's collection of female clothing and his elaborate variations of The Cuban Guayabera shirts dominated the preferences by male and female
Varying the collars, designs, numbers and positions of the buttons, pockets, tucks, linear patterns, he continues to pique Jamaican interest with his Guayabera versions which need no jackets, and, worn loosely are perfect for humid weather conditions. Nelson's improvement of the alforzas (fine, tiny pleats sewn closely together) adds appeal of the original "Bush Jacket" design. He explains that he first pulls the thread from the actual fabric and then handweaves lacelike patterns of a varied repeated shapes largely diamonds, triangles from the unravelled threads.
While the females were adorned in mostly black and earth-brown tones, Nelson's Guayaberas were in natural light colours from white, beige, yellows and greens worn with dark pants. According to Emiliano, the traditional colour of Cuba was white until almost 200 years ago when natural colours such as beige were allowed. Where material is concerned, cotton is made in Cuba, but limited fabric such as linen is additionally imported from countries such as Mexico, China or the Panama.
A firm believer that "clothing is culture - the living language of the people," Nelson has already created a stir internationally with his contemporary Guayaberas suitable for any function. His shirts are worn by several heads-of-state, famous actors and entertainers. The list comprises Cuban president Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro; former prime minister P.J. Patterson, Andy Garcia, Ben Afflick, Sting and Danny Glover.
Emilano, who is of Jamaican ancestry, is inspired by the early colonial period. Too many Caribbean nationals, he says, create with the styles from European tradition, which are tailored for specific climates such as winter.
Nelson's Cuban counterpart, Carmen Fiol de La Cruz, has received honorific titles in cut and sewing from well known sewing and design houses in Cuba, and recently the 'National Cuban Culture' and 'A Life Work' awards by the Cuban Minister of Culture.
Taking pleasure in handcraft, Fiol is considered a master designer as she specialises in tiny ornamental needlework to produce decorative designs which combine appliqué and embroidery. The strategic placement of these designs on the long dresses, some layered with frills made the largely white collection attractive to buyers.
Saint model StaceyAnn Anderson in Carmen Fiol's design.-photos by Anthea McGibbon
Jason Hyatt (left) dons Emiliano Nelson's shirt design, and Emiliano Nelson wears one of his Guayabera creations.
Mixed media on varnished paper by Eduardo Arroya.
Untited by Gerardo Rueda. - Contributed
Anthea McGibbon, a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has over 10 years experience in the fields of journalism and the arts. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.