Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa is in need of no introduction. Arguably the most well-known and globally exhibited Cuban artist, Garaicoa holds his own amongst the masters of the 21st century. With works in collections such as the Tate Modern, London, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Garaicoa has established himself as a cornerstone of globalised art.

Garaicoa born in 1967 in Havana, Cuba, initially studied engineering before beginning his mandatory military service. It was while completing his military service that Garaicoa first worked with architectural materials and concepts as a draughtsman. Garaicoa was required to produce technical drawings by hand. The techniques that the artist learnt here would become the foundation of his artistic practices. Having completed his military service, Garaicoa enrolled into the Instituto de Artes Plasticas (ISA), graduating in 1994. At ISA Garaicoa was given the resources and time to explore a range of media and techniques—this reflecting in his current body of work consisting of drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, painting and video art. Garaicoa’s work has focused on the way one reads a city; the way in which the city decays, is forgotten and the very human impact that can be seen in inhabited spaces.

His fascination with the city was born out of the ruins of Havana. The dilapidated buildings and crumbling walls gave birth to ideas of structural conflict, the way in which myth can be played out amongst destruction and most centrally, to how new life can be formed out of decay. Most works function as a search for utopia through dystopic means, naturally doubling up as social and political commentary and criticism—some more vocal than others.

Steadily moving towards more of an architectural language, Garaicoa explains in an interview with Holly Block referencing his work Continuidad de una arquitectura ajena (Continuity of Somebody’s Architecture), 2002, ‘I decided to distance myself from the traditional assumptions of art and to substitute them with a quasi-multidisciplinary reflection that has placed me nearer to the compromises and roles associated with architecture. In this reflection, I tried to understand architecture as a discipline that has played one of the most important roles in society and that has inflected politically, ideologically, and socially all the changes and events that have marked the course of our lifetimes”.

Having recently set up an experimental studio space for collaborative works, Garaicoa has moved to becoming a patron and mentor of the arts as well as a practising artist. His work is generally carried out by a team of studio assistants, though the artist oversees the process from beginning to end. Garaicoa has exhibited across the world, most notoriously at Documenta 11 (2002), the Venice Biennale (2005/2009) and the São Paulo Bienal (1998/2004). His work, as mentioned above is widely collected and in many important collections.

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