Spotlight on Havana: Kadir Lopez Nieves

These works are a beautiful, incredibly detailed and carefully thought-out pieces by Havana-based artist, Kadir Lopez Nieves. Often times, the most particular techniques draw our attention and catch our eye.  The ceramic-baked layers of paint glazed over these reclaimed signs is an original and integrated look at a time period through signage and landscape, a wayfinder for time.

This exhibition of work by Kadir Lopez Nieves utilizes vintage, 1950’s marketing signs from American companies that were a part of the “pre-Castro” Cuban cityscape.  They evidence the close ties that existed between Cuba and the United States during this era. Most of the signs recovered were burned or shot at by the rebels upon their arrival in Havana in 1959. These signs were soon banned altogether, as symbols of capitalism, by Castro’s revolutionaries in the early 1960’s.

Several years ago, the artist began purchasing the discarded signs from scrap yards and independent sellers throughout Cuba. After researching the background history of these remaining signs, Kadir collaged them with archival photo-images from this era. Many of the photographic images are of the time period and location from which the signs were taken. Others provide a snapshots of  Havana which often foreshadow the tumultuous events about to take place.

Manufactured with serigraphic engraving, instead of traditional pigments for painting the signs, the technique of porcelain baking was used.  The colors were baked separately after being applied over the steel, in different consecutive layers, until the desired design was achieved.  It is upon these aging supports that the artist  paints, draws and creates his own interpretations with ceramic pigments, resins, enamels and other materials that naturally allow for transparency in order to let these photographic images of Old Havana, selected by the artist, to reveal the original signage beneath.

These are one-of-a-kind pieces that depict the last days of pre Castro, Cuban-American history.

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