Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho), was born on the Isla de Juventud in Cuba, is one of the world’s most notable and exciting artists. First shooting to fame as a result of his work presented at the South Korean Kwangju Biennial in 1995, Kcho has gone on to dominate the centre of the artistic world, represented by Marlborough Art Gallery, showing frequently at international biennials, and collected by some of the world’s most important artistic institutions.

Mainly known for his sculpture and installation works, Kcho’s signature style and themes is focused on the well documented issue of immigration in Cuba. The artist has filled many-a-space with miniature crafted boats, washed up items and carved figurines. Kcho obtained his degree from the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, focusing mainly on drawing and later expanding to three dimensional works. The majority of Kcho’s works are based on boat forms. He uses materials that are often scavenged from other sources, such as recycled bottles and old lumber from docks and boats. His focus on things that emerge from the water—or water as a divisive tool itself—is found in his childhood located on la Isla de la Juventud, the tiny island located off shore mainland Cuba. Kcho sees the sea through the eyes of an anthropologist, as a mean of linking of cultures through expanses. Kcho has stated that “I do not work with waste materials, but with a past that lives. This has been fundamental in my work. These materials have a prior history. My works are concentrated in their energy…”

Kcho’s work extend beyond the barriers of material art. He has opened up a studio in the Romerillo area of Havana that is dedicated to helping budding artists, creating a space for people to spend time, and providing free and open internet connection to those who can not afford to access it. As such it is justly named the Laboratory of the Arts in Romerillo, also occassionally known as the Museum of Organic Arts. The MOR has recently received the backing of Google and has a new focus on new media art and internet based art.

Kcho extended his hands into politics, elected deputy of the Popular Power National Assembly in July 2003 to represent the people of the Isla de la Juventud, then reelected in January 2008. Kcho’s role nationally has developed to accompany President Raul Castro on international visits, representing the cultural sector of Cuba.

Over the duration of his relatively short career, Kcho has exhibited in over 90 personal shows 200 collective shows and across 35 countries. His work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world, and have been hosted in major biennials.

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