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Xico sculptures in Plaza de San Francisco

Xico sculptures in Plaza de San Francisco

by Ricardo Alberto Pérez

These days when Habaneros are celebrating the 496th birthday of their city (November 16), sixteen singular sculptures arrived at the San Francisco de Asís Square. They have been inspired by a charismatic dog known as Xoloitzcuintle in Mexico, and it is said that this small animal has been around in Central America and mainly in Mexico for over 1,300 years. Affectionately known by its diminutive of “Xico,” this character symbolizes friendship and cultural exchanges among peoples.

Surrounded by myths and legends giving it a strong symbolic content, this small dog forms the basis for the 1.80-meter tall sculptures executed by artists from Cuba and Latin America. Xico is the synthesis of a long, profound history dealing with the identities of Pre-Hispanic nations, entailing the grace of individual talents and the dreams of a group. Such an endeavor that brings together identical objects in order to obtain essential differences can be interpreted as a hymn to diversity and the comprehension of appearances that are different from what they represent.

The creators of this project still have the idea that Havana is the same as it was in Colonial times: the Key to the New World. Our city is a special home for this journey, guided by a delicate, hairless canine that has acquired the luster of both ancient and contemporary times. Xico has been primarily identified as an animal that helps its master to overcome any difficulty that may cross his path. Expressing the legend in words, we have the saying: “Xico lights the fires of your heart.”

Renowned artists from Cuba, Mexico, Panama and Colombia have granted independent life to their own creations. Some of the most outstanding versions of this dog are signed by Eduardo Roca (Choco), Ángel Ramírez and Carlos Guzmán. Their painted Xicos carry new universes under their skin and they question the breadth of everything that is human.

I would also like to emphasize the contribution of the female spirit, bringing a special sensitivity to the way messages are transmitted and how details have been conceived, adding extra touches of seduction to the pieces. Among the female participants I really enjoyed the work of Leticia Gutiérrez Rosas from Mexico.

Xico, that faithful guardian of so many endeavors, has been welcomed in cities such as Brussels, Sao Paulo, San Luis de Potosí, Mexico City, Veracruz, New York, Shanghai and Santiago de Chile and now it is here on our Havana cobblestones so that we can enjoy it.

Exhibitions of this sort, set up in attractive public spaces, can be interpreted as participating in the protection of the environment, especially of animal species whose populations have alarmingly diminished. The Xoloitzcuintle is certainly no exception.

Fortunately this noble Mexican dog is also being represented in chocolate and as a cartoon character. All over the world its image has become a source of fun for children from different cultures.

Just a few months ago, San Francisco de Asís Square was the temporary home for a band of bears that bore the distinguishing features of more than one hundred different countries. And now we have these stellar but humble dogs to confirm the suspicion that this city square, which is normally animated with pigeons and thousands of international and Cuban visitors every day, is the ideal stage to keep on welcoming creative initiatives that enrich urban landscapes and the everyday lives of its citizens.

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