On July 7, 2017, the Kendall Art Center (now Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas) inaugurated "Cuban Slugger," an exhibition by the renowned Cuban artist Reynerio Tamayo. On this occasion, Tamayo expressed that this exhibition was a 'long-standing debt' he felt he owed, as he had participated in various group exhibitions on the theme of baseball but had never held a solo exhibition entirely dedicated to this sport. The project was previously showcased at Galería Habana in Havana and traveled almost in its entirety to South Florida. It was a heartfelt homage to the history of Cuban baseball and its giant protagonists, both past and present, with a bit more focus on the early stars of the 20th century. The exhibition was both formally and conceptually a sports celebration. The Galería Habana exhibition, titled “Cuba en pelota,” also served as a nod to the island's history through baseball, painting, and the socio-political story of the island. The title referenced an iconic work within the history of contemporary Cuban art: Antonia Eiriz's "La muerte en pelota" from 1966, thus paying tribute to this great Cuban artist of all time. For Tamayo, it was essential to hold the exhibition in its natural settings. 'From one side only, it remained incomplete,' he expressed.
José Ramón Alonso Lorea described Tamayo as 'a great painter, and moreover, witty,' as it was impossible to place his art before his refined and very Cuban sense of humor. Through humor and impeccable technique and drawing, Tamayo provokes amusing yet serious reflections on art and its history. Gary Anuez, on the other hand, commented that 'Reynerio has always had the grace to merge languages and traditions in his artistic work, not just from an aesthetic perspective, but from the anthropological cultural ingredients that have defined his artistic production for over twenty-five years.' He reflected on how humor 'has always been a bridge to hope, a relief in life, a channel of energy that allows us to face battles and win them with a smile, making life's journey as pleasant as possible.'
Today, Tamayo pays homage once again, this time to Cuban music. Particularly, he honors its most emblematic musicians, the most virtuosic instrumentalists and composers, and the legendary singers who propelled it to stellar heights and defined it as one of the most significant and influential musical forms worldwide. Cuban music has left an indelible legacy in international culture. From son cubano, mambo, and cha-cha-chá to its innovations in jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and nueva trova, a continuation of the traditional trova, its impact on contemporary music around the globe is palpable.
Over a hundred years of history are reflected in a single piece. A triptych of unprecedented dimensions in the artist's work, which will be on display for the first time at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas, in Kendall. True to his style and character, Tamayo not only portrays those musicians who set the standard and whom we now view as almost unbelievable beings due to their extraordinary talent, but he also incorporates key elements of contemporary popular culture. The title of the piece, Rumba Stars, serves as a pretext to include many of the most iconic characters from George Lucas's saga, Star Wars. Alongside Miguelito Valdés, Desi Arnaz, La Lupe, Mayito Bauzá, Bebo Valdés, Chano Pozo, and Celia Cruz, we will see George Lucas himself, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hans Solo, and Chewbacca, among others.
This triptych, originating from Cuba, journeyed through Panama, and now in the final stages of mounting in Miami, mirrors a trajectory not uncommon in the art world, yet its narrative and essence are anything but ordinary. "Rumba Stars" offers a singular opportunity to witness a monumental work in person, permeated with the quintessential grace of Reynerio Tamayo. We extend an invitation to the public to partake in this historic moment, as this piece makes its inaugural public appearance at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas in Kendall. Do not miss the chance to intimately experience the grandeur and profundity of an artwork that encapsulates the spirit and cultural richness of our region. We eagerly await to share and celebrate this unparalleled artistic event together.
Reynerio Tamayo is a Cuban-born artist who studied at the National Visual Arts School and the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba and is considered one of the most important Cuban artists of his time. He currently lives and works in Havana, Cuba. According to Gary Anuez, “In Tamayo’s work there can be seen an authentic vivacity, a sort of celebration, expressed through baseball, through the transformation of a classic Cuban/ American pastime into a symbol of transcendence. Tamayo was always a chronicler, as any good Cuban, ‘a jodedor’ (joker), a type of artist who narrates, that makes stories and at the same time legitimizes the story and almost always through laughter. He put things in place, but on that place where the art makes it simple. Humor has always been the bridge to hope, the relief of life, the channel of harmful energy that; as humans, we change and transform into a battle where you always win with a smile, and make the journey of life a more pleasant place. It’s where the value of this visual offer that he presents to us, through the Kendall Art Center, as a parenthesis to the transcendent; to this time and his vision beyond earth or space, but an experience of life.
The Kendall Art Cultural Center (KACC), dedicated the past six years to the preservation and promotion of contemporary art and artists, and to the exchange of art and ideas throughout Miami and South Florida, as well as abroad. Through an energetic calendar of exhibitions, programs, and its collections, KACC provides an international platform for the work of established and emerging artists, advancing public appreciation and understanding of contemporary art.
The Rodríguez collection is a blueprint of Cuban art and its diaspora. Within the context of the new MoCA-Americas the collection becomes an invaluable visual source for Diaspora identity. It represents a different approach to art history to try to better understand where we come from to better know where we are heading.Read More