Culture, Multiculture, Our People, Visual Arts

Arturo Montoto: The “dark” side of sculpture

The Cuban artist is working on his first exposition – that will take place in February 2018 – with large format sculptures, without dissociating himself from the usual poetry of his pictorial work or from his reflections on the strange and the different.


Martha Sánchez


Although he is a painting graduate in Russia and has dedicated most of his career to this form, Arturo Montoto takes on sculpture by vocation and this new project does not break away from his habitual aesthetic, but continues to delve into his world of fruit, tools and other objects.

“I’m taking what I have painted until now and extracting it from the canvas, turning it into sculptures made with resin”, he explained in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina.

“I already have the first piece ready, a baseball that measures one metre and 80 centimetres in diameter. This is one of the objects that I have painted the most, even though I don’t like baseball which bores me”, he says.

He explains that he likes to use the baseball as a symbolic element, even ironic, on the basis of the type of idolatry that many people profess in his country.

“As an object I find it beautiful and from a sculptural point of view it interests me on account of its form and expression”, he explains.

He knows that the national audience will immediately identify the object, just that they will find it strange because his ball is glossy black with pink stitching for greater visual contrast.

Another one of the pieces will be a broken egg in which the yoke and the white will be visible while part of the shell will be placed on the floor. In addition, Montoto along with his helpers will give form to an old wicker basket for these days.

The collection of pieces will be on display in the Gorria gallery of the capital, under the direction of actor Jorge Perugorría, in the second fortnight of February 2018.

Each of the works will function with its independent meaning and its own title, but between them a relationship will be maintained, he asserts, because they are taken from his paintings and because they will all be black pieces. This is why he plans to baptize the exhibit as “Dark”. 

“Black helps to neutralize the meanings of the original object, I would like the spectator to look at them neutrally and perhaps see them from a purely aesthetic point of view”, aspires the artist born in 1953 in the province of Pinar del Río. “I was a country kid, I was brought up on a farm and lived on horseback between the city and the country, my childhood transpired between the urban and the rural”, he relates.

He evaluates this fact as a vital experience that marked him for life. He transferred his relationship with fruit and nature to art, although he reserved his passion for animals, especially for cats and dogs, to the private domestic sphere.

“My father was a farmer and since I was small he instilled a love for the earth in me, he showed me how to sow plants, to enjoy the harvest of a fruit, and I love to plant a shrub of anything and pick its fruit in time. To me cultivating and producing represent happiness”, he reaffirms.

Montoto likes to see art as a productive activity and he makes an example of this with sculpture, the elaboration of which requires design and structure, to construct in the space.

Professor at the Instituto Superior de Arte (Higher Art Institute) (1986 to 1993), Montoto graduated in 1984 from the Surikov Academy in Moscow with a ‘Master of Fine Arts’ specialising in mural painting.

He became known in Cuba for his provocative landscapes of juicy fruits in dark, sordid, wild, and even dismantled city corners.
Montoto has 40 personal expositions under his belt and has participated in more than 100 collective exhibitions in and outside of his home country.

Some of his works can be found in private collections in Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, United States, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, France, Spain, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Chile and Cuba. (PL)

(Translated by Sarah Claman)


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