EXHIBITIONS:2007 (May 29-Sep 9) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2007 (Oct 7-Dec 31) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL
2009 (Oct 3-Jan 4) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, Jordan Schnitzer Museum, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
2010 (Oct 15-Jan 10) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
2010 (Feb-Apr 4) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
2010 (Jun 27-Sep 19) Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY
REFERENCES:Roberto Cobas, ed., Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: Colección de Arte Cubano (Barcelona: “Sa Nostra” Caja de Baleares, Ambit, 2001), Item 235. Abelardo Mena Chicuri, Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection (University of Florida Press, 2007).
b. 1970, resides in Cuba
When Cuban film director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea decided to include Esterio Segura’s paintings as a plot device in his 1994 film, Strawberry and Chocolate, the young artist had already participated in the influential exhibition Las metáforas del templo (Metaphors of the Temple, 1993), as both exhibiting artist and, with Carlos Garaicoa, co-curator. Segura graduated with a degree in Sculpture from the Superior Institute of Art (ISA) in 1994. Faced with a discouraging social climate and the frenzied departure of much of the previous generation, Cuban art freed itself from the utopian impulses of the end of the 1980s and embarked on a new era, characterized by aesthetic ambiguity, the deployment of fine craftsmanship as a Trojan horse, and a more refined approach to popular culture as a source of motifs and materials.
Segura’s work embodies a promiscuous exchange between the symbols of religion and politics, a parodic questioning of national history as selective myth, and the recycling of elements taken from art history—all encompassed by a powerful, carnivalesque impulse that threatens to fuse all hierarchies and protocols. Santo de paseo por el trópico (Saint Touring the Tropics, 1991) is not a preliminary study for the final sculpture of the same name created that year, but one of many drawings that Segura completed as parallels to the sculpture project. His mastery of spectacle, his sensual rendering of the body, and the subtlety of his descriptive line evoke the rites of traditional aesthetic contemplation, in this case indebted to the imagery of the counter-Reformation, to Caravaggio, and to the Baroque sculptors of the Spanish Golden Age.
As depicted here, Segura’s proposed project rejects the narrative rhetoric of official projects intended for the public square, and absorbs the anti-transcendentalist practices of a great deal of contemporary art. This St. Sebastian, European in conception and caught unaware by the ferocious hacking of Cuban machetes—tools transmuted into weapons of war against Spanish domination—is the pained expression of a culture of living resistance.
—Abelardo Mena Chicuri