Glexis Novoa, born in Holguin, Cuba in 1964, has had a prolific career, to say the least—and yet the artist continues to go from strength to strength. Currently residing between Miami and Havana, Novoa spent over 20 years living solely in Miami after choosing to leave Cuba in 1995 due to the restricted state of freedom of expression. In 2013 Novoa joined the wave of artists and intellectuals returning to Cuba after long periods away from the island.
Before leaving Cuba Novoa studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), graduating in 1984. Novoa formed part of the generation of artists that is now defined as the New Cuban Art movement. This group artists breathed fresh life into the Cuban arts and captured the essence of their generation. Novoa explained in an interview with Cubartours, “My work has always been conditioned by my social context. In Havana, I lived through a very privileged moment—during the 80s—also known as the “renaissance” of Cuban art, where I experimented with collective collaborations, performance, etc., in very strange circumstances within an institutional space. We did not have access to the art market, nor information about contemporary art during this period. The possibility to develop my work outside this institution gave me the opportunity to work like other artists from all over the world and gave me an understanding of how a system of art functions from an independent perspective. In Havana, nowadays, I have encountered a very generic scene that depends and revolves around the mainstream, however, it is still a very vibrant platform, which is very important for the promotion of Cuban artists. The scene is now enriched by artists who come to Havana to work and exhibit like they do across the world. For me, Havana is perfectly combined with Miami, another throbbing epicentre of international art, through a short 45-minute flight.”
Novoa’s work has been centred around typography-focused pieces. His most iconic works from the 80s mirror the cultural and political fusion of the USSR and Cuba. Socio-political commentary and linguistic explorations have been at the heart of Novoa’s expression-- from his early career through to his mature works. In his most recent painted pieces, Glexis Novoa harks back to his works from the 80s and 90s. The works presented in the artist’s most recent series of work Las Cosas Como Son, form an extension of Novoa’s age-old series La etapa práctica, which seeks to explore the linguistic heart of Cuban society.
Returning to Havana in 2013 and reconnecting with his artistic and familial roots, Novoa’s work, although continuously evolving, reintegrates large parts of his early oeuvre. This could, however, also be the artist reflecting upon the stagnated state of the island. Cuba, famous for being ‘stuck in a 50s time-warp’, whilst pleasing for tourists searching for an increasingly lucid nostalgia, leaves many of the island's inhabitants with a feeling of entrapment and frustration. Novoa through using his renowned Soviet-esque typography, seen in pieces such as Untitled (Practical Stage), 1990, coupled with the use of the newest and most commonly used terms thrown around on Havana’s streets, shows the simultaneous evolution and stagnation of the island. Whilst works found in his earlier oeuvre attempted to manifest the emptiness of political messages propagated by Cuba’s institutional powers, his newer pieces emphasise the unadulterated vibrant nature of Cuban contemporary culture, captured through frequently heard words and phrases.
Novoa’s work resides in many large and important collections across the world, both private a public. The artist has taken part in many residencies and has formed cultural connections across the world. He is currently represented by the David Castillo Gallery, where is his work can often be found on show. For more information please follow the link provided here: http://davidcastillogallery.com/artist/glexis-novoa/
On September 23rd 2016, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Habana will be presenting Las Cosas Como Son, an exhibition by Glexis Novoa. The artist will be exhibiting 11 paintings and 11 sculptures, executed in Havana over the last 2 years.view more