Agustín Cárdenas

Matanzas, Cuba, 1927 -Havana, Cuba, 2001

Painter and sculptor. He studied between 1943 and 1949 at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana. He was a founder and prominent activist of the Los Once Group who introduced Abstraction as a renewing trend of the visual arts in Cuba between 1953 and 1955. He traveled to Paris in 1955 and the following year he was invited by the esthete of Surrealism Andrés Bretón to participate in an collective exhibition in the gallery of the surrealist group L’Etoile Scellé. He was part of the Surrealist movement since 1957. Among the most important grants and decorations are the Sculpture Grant of the Paris Biennial (1961); Knight of Arts and Letters of France (1976); National Prize of the Plastic Arts of Cuba (1995). The work of Agustín Cárdenas renews the language of Surrealism, practicing an original interpretation of the relation between Abstraction and Figuration. It is a renewal of the surrealist language given by the incorporation of figurative features (present also in the work of Wilfredo Lam) of the Afro-Cuban cultural Syncretism. His sculptures made of Carrara marble and wood reflect on the expression of the unconscious as an inexhaustible source of freedom for the subject. Cardenas merges elements of the Western social and historical imaginary with symbolic traits from the rituality of his African roots. Among his most representative exhibitions are, for example: Palacios de Bellas Artes (La Habana, 1955); Galerie de la Cour d’Ingres, presented by André Breton, (Paris, 1959); Richard Feigen Gallery (Chicago, 1962); Galerie Jacques Benador (Paris, 1975); Museum of Fine Arts (Caracas, 1982); Durban Segnini Gallery (Caracas, 1990); “Retrospective”. Couvents des Cordeliers, Mairie (Paris, 1997). “Desires and Grace Haim Chanin Fine Arts Gallery (N.York, 2002). The work of Agustín Cárdenas is present in important public and private collections such as Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (France), Museum of Modern Art (Japan), Museum of Modern Art (Israel), Musée d’Art Contemporain (Canada), Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts (Belgium), National Museum of Fine Arts (Cuba), Museum of Fine Arts (Venezuela), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, (France).