Galerie Aura is presenting pieces from artists living and working in Cuba
The United States travel embargo against Cuba being lifted isn’t the only notable recent news about the nation to hit Montreal—Art Cuba, an exhibit at Galeria Aura, is having its premiere on Oct. 14 and it’s sure to contain beautiful, engaging images and artwork ranging from the late ‘70s to more recent years.
Sergio Veranes, who is half-Cuban, is the owner of the display space and opened Galerie Aura in May 2015. The gallery is mainly a contemporary photography exhibit space and, as a successful photographer himself, his experiences contribute to his knowledge, curating abilities, and focus as a gallery owner. “When I wanted to open this gallery I was thinking I was going to do it general, [have] everything, and then I realized that it’s too much for me and also I’m a photographer myself … and I think it’s better that I just concentrate on what I know how to do better,” said Veranes.
For the upcoming exhibit, which according to Veranes will run until approximately mid-December, he curated most of the pieces himself and some are even a part of his personal collection. The pieces, the inspiration, and his choice of artists stem from Veranes’ personal relationship with Cuba and artists he has encountered there. “It’s a reconnection with my lineage … In the past five years I’ve connected [with] people whose work I have liked and I’ve developed [friendships] with some of them,” said Veranes. “There’s no concept behind it, I don’t think I would’ve done any other show that was not a photographic show if it wasn’t because I started this relationship with Cuba in the past five years.”
The exhibit includes sculptures, drawings, paintings and photography from artists who live and work in Cuba. To be sure, Cuba as a country and culture has its own unique traits, feeling, and personality, therefore one thing that makes this exhibit interesting is Veranes’ artistic connections and experience within the country.
“I started going to Cuba and mingling with the artists, especially this friend of mine who knew everybody. So I started spending time with them, learning about Cuba, about how they think, about enjoying the art,” said Veranes.
Along with the Cuban flavour that seeps into the pieces, so does the country’s political environment. The environment one creates in and the limitations of that artistic habitat affect how explicitly one can portray a concept. “It’s very interesting because a lot of these guys have something to say politically, [but] probably not very directly because there’s a repression regime … you cannot just say whatever you want,” said Veranes. He then referenced the recent eight-month prison sentence given to the Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado who painted the names “Raul” and “Fidel” on two pigs.
Cuba is also a hot topic when it comes to international politics at the moment, and although the exhibit wasn’t planned because of the travel embargo being lifted, it is complimented by the historical event. “What happened with Obama lately is great because now all the American market can go to Cuba and they can buy from these people, they can help them come out, they can help them do more work—It’s fantastic,” said Veranes.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. the Art Cuba exhibit will premiere to the public. Galerie Aura is located on Crescent Street, right near the downtown Concordia campus, so whether it’s for a moment after class or for a leisurely hour come and see the beautiful art that Cuba has to offer.