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Humberto Castro

About Humberto Castro

b. 1957, resides in the United States

Humberto Castro’s art takes place within the framework of violence. Initially inspired by the mass extermination of the aboriginal population of Cuba, his work later absorbed more contemporary connotations, such as the civil war in El Salvador during the Reagan era. “I am a mirror,” the artist declared, “and I want to reflect violence in my work in a filtered manner. My interest is to prove that the Expressionism of our time is much more charged with humanity’s internal emotions that its previous versions” (Camnitzer, 2003, 267). A draftsman as well as an engraver and a performance artist, Castro strongly affected the artistic conscience of the time with La Caída de Icaro (The Fall of Icarus, 1984, MNBA, Havana), a baroque installation in which the reference to the ancient Greek myth was used as a visual metaphor for the impossible dreams of human ambition.

Castro’s art drew inspiration from the New Figuration of the trans-avant-garde of the 1980s, at the same time integrating itself into the cultural processes of Cuban art. “This hyper-sensitivity to violence connects him with a great tradition, in which the names of Antonia Eiriz, Umberto Peña, and Acosta León seem indispensable” (Matamoros, 2001, 250). Mis ideas determinan tus limitaciones (My Ideas Determine Your Limitations, 1989) is a splendid example of Castro’s characteristic style. Acid, dissonant colors and an emphatically flat picture plane occupy an oversized canvas to establish an inquisitive rapport with the viewer. Naked angels of the Apocalypse hide their eyes behind sunglasses, alluding to social opportunism and simulation. They support or raise the headless sculpture positioned at the center, bringing to mind those statues that, in parks, squares, and official buildings, preach to the common citizen the ideologies of historical and public personalities offered as models of behavior.

                                                        —Abelardo Mena Chicuri

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