René Francisco is one of the most important and critically acclaimed contemporary Cuban artists, living and working in Havana. Born in Holguín in 1960, René moved to Havana in the 70s. He was one of the first people to enroll and graduate from the Instituto Superior de Arte in 1982. Continuing to study until 1989, René Francisco then went on to teach for many years, stopping only recently to focus entirely on his own work. The artist first shot to fame whilst teaching, holding his classes in unorthodox manners and forming performance groups with many of his students. The intellectual exchange was from both students and teacher in René Francisco’s classroom.

A result of René’s outlandish teaching methods was the Galería DUPP (Desde una Pedagogía Pragmática), first formed in 1989. A far cry from a gallery, the DUPP was a performative collective. Artists such as Alexandre Arrechea, Wilfredo Prieto and Duvier del Dago all formed part of DUPP at varying points—all going on to achieve their own success and wonderful oeuvres. The point behind the collective was to force students and artists to interact with their immediate spaces, go in to run down parts of the city and use their art to help people who were not as well off as themselves.

Away from his work dedicated to teaching and community projects, René Francisco is a wonderful painter in his own right and intellectual. Upon entering his studio, you are welcomed by scattered canvases plastered in paint. His technique is detailed and layered. His works vast and encompassing. Paint has been layered on canvas with a spatula, using a painstaking, pointillist technique. The body of his work has expanded, of late, to include new media. Francisco combines satirical political and social commentary with the use of video art, installation art and occasionally performance art, seen most notably in his piece focused on President Obama forming part of his exhibit titled Entropía for the 12th Havana Biennial.

René Francisco has been exhibited widely across the world, and is collected in equal variation. He was selected as the artist to represent Cuba at the 52nd Venice Biennale and has exhibited in many Biennials worldwide.

An artist who has shaped and defined many generations of Cuban art, as well as developing through his students, René Francisco captures the best of the Cuban art education system. His art reflects a very Cuban discourse and yet simultaneously stretches to include the global and developing universal trends. 

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