OPIUM: A Conversation with Cuban Artist José Toirac


Friday, September 20, 2019, 12:00pm


CGIS South, S216, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speakers: José Toirac, independent Cuban Artist; Octavio Zaya, curator and art critic
Moderator: Alejandro de la Fuente, Chair, Cuba Studies Program

Opium by ToiracCuban Artist José Toirac and Art Curator Octavio Zaya will discuss the exhibition "OPIUM: Works by José Toirac", as well as Toirac's artistic international career. OPIUM is part of the DRCLAS Cuba Studies Program’s activities related to the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

Since early 1990s, José Toirac has been a well-known artist in Cuba, even if his unassuming and reserve personality didn’t propel him into instant fame and the recognition that was granted to other artists from his generation. Despite the obvious political irony of his paintings and drawings, or perhaps because of it, José Toirac was awarded last year’s National Prize of Fine Arts in Cuba while we were preparing his presentation at DRCLAS, a much deserved acknowledgment to his independent career that is finally catching up with what we understand as his “political poiesis.” He brings that irony mainly through the juxtaposition and combination of political and advertisement iconographies, but he is never explicit in his intentions, and his work is always full of nuances and successful pairings and encounters.

Octavio Zaya is an independent art curator, writer and editor. He has been Director of Atlántica Journal for the last 18 years. He has curated more than 40 exhibitions for more than 17 museums throughout the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1976) and the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2000, 2001, 2018). He participated at the First and Second Johannesburg Biennales, and was a curator of Documenta 11 (2002). He curated Spain’s Pavillion at the 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013).

Alejandro de la Fuente is the Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Professor of African and African American Studies and of History at Harvard University. He is also Director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

This talk will be held in Spanish with consecutive translation