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Black Cuban Picasso: FIRST US SHOW, 8/06

Painting by Juan Antonio Picasso

Picasso afrocubano - su primera exposición en la EEUU, 6 de agosto, 2006


Juan Antonio Picasso

Juan Antonio Picasso, a descendant of Pablo Picasso’s grandfather, is one of Cuba’s emerging new artistic talents. Since presenting his first exhibition in Cuba last year, he has become increasingly sought after, not just for his connection to the famous Spanish master, but because he is a skilled and talented artist in his own right.

A young Picasso exhibits in Havana, Granma, 8/10/05

[Left to right] Brayan Collazo (Casa Frela Gallery) and Juan Antonio Picasso:

Painting by Juan Antonio Picasso:


A young Picasso exhibits in Havana       Havana. August 10, 2005

• The Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba Gallery receives the second personal exhibition of Juan Antonio Picasso

BY MIREYA CASTANEDA—Granma International staff writer—

 For anyone who wishes to make a living from art, having Picasso as a surname is an invaluable treasure. However, when art is an inseparable part of your life, it turns out to be a heavy burden. Because of the unfair comparisons.

Now undergoing the "let’s go see what this Picasso does" stage is Cuban Juan Antonio, from the youngest generation of the recently revealed Cuban family of the great Pablo Ruiz Picasso.

At the end of the 1990s, it was documented that around 1860, the maternal grandfather of the creator of Cubism (together with Braque, of course), Francisco Picasso Guardeño, left his wife and four daughters (one of them María, who would be the mother of Pablo Picasso) and traveled to Cuba to seek his fortune (and died here in 1888).

For example, in the second book of the series Picasso antes del azul (Picasso before the Blue Period) by Rafael Inglada, one of the top researchers on the Malaga native, in writing about the maternal grandfather, Juan Picasso Guardeño, tells how his "journey and subsequent settling in Cuba resulted in a prolific saga that kept the Picasso surname alive on the island," and even more so, in the documentary Los Picassos negros (The Black Picassos), by Cuban journalist Julia Mirabal (presented during the 1999 Havana Film Festival and at the 3rd Malaga Film Festival, where she was accompanied by one of the Cuban descendants, Ramón).

Picasso Guardeño, described as an eccentric gentleman with a walrus mustache, met a Black woman in Cuba named Cristina Serra, with whom he had four children; the 41 descendants of one of them – Juan Francisco Aurelio Picasso Serra – are those who have been identified so far in Cuba.

Ramón, one of Picasso Guardeño’s great-grandchildren, is the father of this 30-year-old man who in his painting defies the weighty legacy of a surname that is part of the history of universal art.

His exhibition, Ecos pueriles (Childish Echoes), is on view in the Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba Gallery. It is made up of 21 medium- and small-format paintings, in abstract-representational style, with a heavy use of black and white, although in this second show (the first was in February of this year), the color is less vague, and always to emphasize a point of interest.

How did you get into painting?

Juan: I began drawing, and got into painting just four years ago, under the tutelage of the San Alejandro professors, Rogelio David Nuñez and Julio Trujillo.

Your themes and style?

Juan: Moving away from drawing and toward abstraction, combining it with representation, for a more social text. Not abstraction as a decorative medium, but to present the social drama. I like working in black and white, and I’ve just begun incorporating colors.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso?

It’s impossible for me to distance myself from his work. It’s impossible to get away from cubism. I’m not indifferent to his influence, and I would have it in any case, even if we weren’t related.

After the revelation of his Cuban family, has there been any communication with Picasso’s heirs?

Ramón went to Malaga with Julia Mirabal to present the documentary, which was very well-received, but there was no coming together with the family.

Any special reason for exhibiting at the Yoruba Association?

My paintings, as you can see, present a religious-type symbolism, but they are just a complement, I’m not trying to compete.

This is your second show. What have the reactions been?

My surname always casts a bit of a shadow. I don’t like the comparisons; everyone has his or her own style, and sometime they are destructive.

Juan Antonio Picasso is a tall, slim young man, a serious and decided artist. He has titled this exhibition Ecos pueriles. If it is a reference to the trivial gossip that contribute nothing to an appreciation of his work, then he is completely in the right.



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