The Farber Collection
Facebook Twitter RSS

Ibrahim Miranda

About Ibrahim Miranda

b. 1969, resides in Cuba

When Ibrahim Miranda graduated from the Superior Institute of Art (ISA) in 1993, his works had already been shown in such important exhibitions as Kuba O.K. in Germany, Nacido en Cuba (Born in Cuba) in Venezuela and Mexico, and the Fourth Havana Biennial—all of which were opportunities for reflection and for the emergence new directions in Cuban art. Together with Belkis Ayón, Abel Barroso, and Sandra Ramos, Miranda was deeply engaged in the conceptual and formal re-examination of engraving, which led him—beyond the scope of his own work—to co-produce the milestone exhibition La Huella Múltiple (The Multiple Imprint). Despite the intense transformation of the art scene that took place during the 1980s, the print as a medium remained cloistered in its previous decorative purposes and iconography. There was an expansion in technique with the introduction of serigraphy through Aldo Menéndez and the René Portocarrero Workshop, but emerging artists made only minor use of the medium, giving preference instead to installation, performance, and painting.

Miranda and other innovative artists renounced the populist utopias implicit in the medium since the avant-garde movements of the early 1900s, which saw prints as a form of mass media, affordable for wide consumption. Instead, Cuban artists of this generation reshaped printmaking techniques as part of the overall rethinking of aesthetic paradigms that took place in the early 1990s. More than simply making art and reproducing it through prints, they were absorbed by the new ideas about insularity and migration. The medium began to reflect not only the artists’ own demons, but a self-awareness about the expressive tools of printmaking, and the professional taboos associated with its practice. Traditional print subjects, such as decorative motifs, were supplanted by religious revelations and cosmological visions, and the parodic appropriation of popular urban signifiers, historical figures, and elements of kitsch.

Mi renuncia (My Renunciation) belongs to an initial series of xylographies, or wood engravings, in which Miranda revealed a personal creative vision that has been classified, to a certain degree, as neo-expressionist. Unlike the German artists of Der Brucke (The Bridge), whose main interest was to reflect the objective world through the prism of subjectivity, in Miranda all images of the exterior world have been radically suppressed. His art has become an instrument for a kind of Freudian self-analysis, a stage for the clash between symbols and dark forces brought to the fore in dreams and nightmares. Miranda resorts to myths of Western art—Icarus, the kidnapping of Europa, the Garden of Eden—mixing them with images taken from religious prints or maps of the island in a seamless bricolage. While Abel Barroso subjects wood engraving to the critique of its technical ease of reproduction (Barroso versus Walter Benjamin), Miranda squeezes, with the skill of a goldsmith, all the possible subtleties out of the matrix, as if he had returned to the times of Gutenberg and Dürer. He has been preceded in the use of this technique by some of his compatriots, such as Carmelo González, Armando Posse, Antonio Canet, and Carlos Díaz Gámez. But in Miranda, medium and image form an indissoluble union. The predominance of an emphatic line, and the rejection of any suggestion of volume, result in an uncomfortable, aggressive style, which speaks of the submission of the subject to the exasperated freedom of dreams.

References: Catalogue, Fourth Havana Biennial, 1991, p. 121, list number 7.

—Abelardo Mena Chicuri