Brushstrokes of an Abstract May

Brushstrokes of an Abstract May
Brushstrokes of an Abstract May

Las Tunas.- Abstraction, often undervalued or incomprehensible, is increasingly gaining ground within the universe of visual arts. From the Balcón de Oriente, the La Cruzada cultural project, with two decades of existence, is committed to promoting this expression in different spaces and adding more and more followers. Therefore, it is not surprising that, under its aegis, Mayo Abstracto was born, an event that has taken the dreams of its followers to another dimension.

José Manuel Mayo Peña says that everything started when – in 2004 – Roberto Reyes proposed that he do an exhibition on this aspect, to show pieces not exhibited until then and that, in addition to them, they added Miguel Mastrapa, considering him one of the pioneers of that facet in Las Tunas. This is how The Crusade was created, to which – little by little – other creators joined.

Although the first exhibition as such was held in the Julio Girona gallery in Manzanillo, the second was embraced by the Balcón de Oriente, presided over by none other than the then Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, who encouraged them to continue along that path. However, Mayo clarifies that La Cruzada was born as a cultural project, because it also includes other artistic manifestations such as music and literature in its activities.

Thus, among its goals has been to bring together the cultivators of this plastic modality, sensitize people and institutions about it and hold exhibitions in different provinces. Although the dream of a biennial still figures among its challenges, La Cruzada has inspired other visual artists in the country, who have even formed similar brotherhoods. In addition, its creators are recognized in the book Abstraction in Cuban paintingby Luis García Peraza, which includes more than a hundred creators.


From May 15 to 18, the VI National Meeting of Abstract Painting (Mayo Abstracto) took place in Las Tunas. Artists from various provinces converged here, participating in exhibitions, workshops and conferences. Among them, the art critic Tamara Tabera Delis, from Santiago de Cuba, who recognized the movement that our land possesses in that sense.

“This event contributes a lot to defending abstraction, quality works are exhibited, other artists join in… But we must ensure that the public attends the exhibition halls, so that it is not just the creators or specialists who are the consumers. Perhaps it will help to search more walkable spaces to exhibit or encourage visits to the galleries,” he explained.

When asked how to avoid facileness and create one’s own style within a modality that is still so misunderstood, the daughter of the Heroic City expressed: “Since the 90s, a boom in this discursive line has been seen in the country. The opening to tourism and new commercialization motivations benefited abstraction. Although there are those who say ‘this is easy’ and go for the superfluous, there is also a resurgence of artists who work with professionalism. This is noticeable, because they achieve a mastery like this. “It happened with my countrymen Luis Emán Fornaris and Jorge Luis Hernández, sadly deceased in 2023.”

For his part, Víctor Manuel Jardines from Santiago said: “Abstract is the art of the subconscious, but – like any work – it must have a discourse and feel. It is not an easy task because it is very difficult to transmit a message through stains, lines , colors… That is why this is a necessary event that stimulates us.”

According to José Manuel Mayo, from Las Tunas, cultivators of abstract expressionism predominate in Las Tunas, although some, like Liusan Cabrera, work on other aspects. “We still find people who think that it’s about throwing paint and that’s it. But a painting of this type follows the same rules as a more academic one: foreground and background, composition, color theory… It requires a lot of concentration to know how “Where to apply the brushstroke, where to put the texture, what is the focus point and, above all, when to stop.”

May Abstract – this time dedicated to Pedro de Oraá – promotes the confluence, the exchange of knowledge and the union of wills to launch ways of doing things that further dignify our culture. Its fruits today can be seen in the galleries of the Provincial Committee of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac), the Center for the Development of the Visual Arts, the Fayad Jamís gallery and the Ibero-American house of the tenth El Cucalambé.

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