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On the corner of Aguacate and Empedrado Streets in Old Havana, just a block and a half away from the Fine Arts Museum, stands one of many artists’ studios, which the old part of the city seems to be swarming in nowadays. However, the presence of Yosiel Calero and Sanlly Viera makes their studio-home stand out from the rest.
These two young artists’ leitmotif is Havana, the old city. They find their inspiration in the hectic daily life of the most densely populated municipality of the capital. Their paintings hang from the walls of their studio-gallery with no visible empty space. Although the main attraction here is of course their art, the place has become a cultural center where writers, musicians and poets perform their art surrounded by Yosiel and Sanlly’s work. The soothing melody of a saxophone enlivens the space that is filled with fabrics, colors, paints. The atmosphere fosters creation.
In the heart of this populated area of Havana and Cuba, many small houses have been rented out and turned into “galleries” or outlets for the sale of handicrafts and paintings of varying quality. The colors and symbols of Cuban culture has become a very lucrative business for many. Luckily, however, there are people who combine finances with art and do not give in, for instance, to hackneyed pictures of old American cars. Yosiel and Sanlly are trying to find a style of their own while they seek to tell the story of a city—past, present and future—through their art.
Sanlly and Yosiel revealed to us that the secret of their painting lies in the interchange of their own energy with the energy that flows from the neighborhood. This is why the door to their studio is always open. What at first one could find distracting for them—the shouting, the unbearable heat, the traffic through the narrow streets, the music—are actually the “raw material” they use in their work. Sometimes, Yosiel sees this part of the city in which he lives, and which he loves and respects, as a woman who despite her years and wrinkles, is still seductive, enticing. Other times, Havana is young, brimming with energy, depicted in its children, its youth.
Every day, Sanlly and Yosiel are reminded that this city has many colors; every day they are dazzled by an event that takes place just around the corner. These are the stories of a fascinating city and their people which are interpreted through their brushes. July 2012