Magic vs. politics

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Magic, santeria, daily life, visions, saints and community–these are the subjects of the paintings at “Cuban Visions” at Indigo, part of Philadelphia’s annual celebration of Cuban art and culture El Festival Cubano.

The show’s folk art is filled with magic and joy in the community and its beliefs. It’s quite different from the kind of isolationist, introverted, closed-system outsider art that’s been hot in the galleries in the past year (I’m thinking of mentally ill people like Henri Darger, or like Adolph Wolfli–see Roberta’s post of May 11).

The religious visions of Jose Garcia Montebravo (shown, top right), for example reflect communal beliefs in santeria, not one man’s hallucinations.

The Cuban paintings of daily life, like Pelly’s cock fight and emergency operation (both shown left), suggest a communality that we seem to have lost in our own daily lives.

There’s a joy to these pieces, a pleasure in the world and in society.

And there’s a belief in the magic of things, a magic that survives in the art of Jose Fuster (image right), who, although he is a trained artist, has kept touch with the world of wonder.

Fuster was invited to the opening reception Oct. 3rd, but delays with the U.S. visa prevented his attending and prevented a dancer for the festival from coming, said Indigo’s Tony Fisher, who suggested that it seemed like the dilatory tactics were government policy.

Less government, more people. That’s the lesson of these paintings. If they paintings had needed a visa, there would have been no show.

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