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Wilfredo Prieto at the 12th Biennial

Wilfredo Prieto at the 12th Biennial

At this year’s Twelfth Havana Biennial, Prieto has taken a remarkably leading role. Not only is his show in one of the most important and visited venues of the event (the exterior and entire ground floor level of the Cuban Art Building of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) but he has also curated one of the most talked about and attractive Biennial exhibitions, Montañas con una esquina rota. For this show, he took over what I consider to be the signature piece of the event, a former bicycle factory that today is in ruins.

His exhibition called Ping-Pong Cuadrícula at Bellas Artes is a reasonable apprenticeship route which with a little good will and freeing themselves of prejudices has viewers following and receiving some notable benefits from the journey. We think that this is a sort of global tale which very subtly tells us the story of how any object can become art, as long as between art and reality there is a mind ready to make this operation possible.

Ping-Pong Cuadrícula draws together multiple metaphors that are moving in various directions. One of its strongest virtues is that one metaphor does not allow itself to get trapped by another and slightest trace of rhetoric. The hooks are practically invisible and follow dynamics very rarely attained.

The artist’s abundant ingenuity is no drawback since the actions have been supported by the undeniable weight of experience. Wilfredo manages to go from a large freight truck to fragments of scattered glass without anything getting fractured on the way, pulling on the imaginary thread that tautens spaces and charging them with emotion.  

Montaña con río, Sí/No, Dos zapatos y dos medias, Matrioska, Una de cal otra de arena, and Pan con Pan are some of his pieces that lead us along the channels set up by the artist, who as the perfect manipulator, will be seated quietly awaiting at the end of the road. These moments that are captured with precision, form a retrospective glance at the trajectory that has described his thinking. It is worth pointing out that these works have also been chosen keeping in mind that their practical insertion into a space with some limitations.

Some of his work is closely associated with sculpture, while other areas are much closer to performance and installations art given their expansive nature. At any rate, those of us who have had the pleasure many times of throwing a stone into the water know what is unleashed upon impact with the surface. Similarly, his objects seem to achieve those effects on the viewers’ subjectivity.

Returning to his work as curator for Montañas con una esquina rota, when you take in this very original exhibition that relies heavily on the actual nature of the location he selected (ruins), behind the indisputable value of the pieces created by renowned artists from all over the world and brought together here for the occasion, the vigorous visual brand of Wilfredo Prieto emerges as if, when all is said and done, this ends up being necessary and unyielding.

June 2015 This article formed part of the june 2015 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.

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