critical texts


A peninsular graphic poetics. Nelson Herrera Ysla
Nelson Herrera Ysla
A peninsular graphic poetics.

«The Cuban poster turned out to be a bugle call, a cry on the wall ―as it has been described― that attracted the most important creators of the moment: Servando Cabrera Moreno, René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Raúl Martínez, Umberto Peña, among others, in the midst of a cultural explosion never seen before in this country. Abroad-educated designers and others self-taught, started up one of the most coherent artistic expressions by means of which made itself known to the world. The Cuban poster was the spokesman of the transformations in the audience’s sensibility and the newly appeared mass communication mechanisms.

The poster proved to be a highest-lever esthetic experience, a visual metaphor of the aspirations regarding the relationship between audience and art, capable of working outside the limits of its primary intention to become, moreover, in a collectable piece.

Either to "make public" a film premiere or a dramatic or musical play, or to support political saving campaigns, education campaigns or public health campaigns, posters dodged descriptive picture, documental iconicism or the speculative reflex of the subject or topic to convey, and became an ideological-visual synthesis in its objective graphic condensation.

This did not prevent the emergence of different ways of designing, clearly marked by the education of the artist-producer. Fortunately, forms or "styles" proliferated in a way that soon made it possible recognize the poster’s author. Thus, Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, Antonio Reboiro, Tony Evora, Félix Beltrán, Raúl Martínez, Alfredo Rostgaard, Antonio Pérez (Ñiko), René Azcuy, Raúl Oliva, Umberto Peña, Frémez, Rolando de Oraá, Esteban Ayala, Morante, by assuming common concepts in mass communication, produced posters from different, personal angles which widen the perception and consumption range of the printed object fashionable at the moment.

"More than affiches, more than posters, more than advertisement, its an always renewed sample of suggestive arts, functional, if you like, offered to the passers-by" ―Alejo Carpentier wrote―, and added, "The poster, the affiches Cuban artists, freed from the obsession of commercial incitement, try to take an art to the street, there where all can see it".

"The poster [...] is a constant gallery, open to everyone, fixed on the walls, ostentatious on the corners, using in itself all the techniques of figuration: assembly, collage, reproductions of parallel images, pop, op, and even, when suitable, imitations of old styles interpreted, transfigured, according to a title, a content or a given message.1"

By the 1970 the poster had revealed to the world the audacity and plurality of the Cuban visual culture. »

1. Alejo Carpentier, Una siempre renovada muestra de artes sugerentes, in Cine cubano n° 54-55, p. 90-91.

Nelson Herrera Ysla (assistant manager of the Wifredo Lam Center),
Excerpt from an article published in Artecubano, Visual arts magazine, Cuba, year 1996, n° 2, p. 17-25.