Critics’ Picks

Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Vilos, 1981, elastic thread, wire, stones, dimensions variable.


Gustavo Pérez Monzón

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana
Calle Trocadero, e/Av. de la Bélgica
May 23–August 24

Gustavo Pérez Monzón is a somewhat mythic figure among Cuban artists. He officially stopped making art in the late 1980s before leaving Cuba for Mexico in the 1990s, opting to dedicate himself to teaching. This current retrospective in Havana thus brings meat to the myth, showcasing an extraordinarily prolific career to a new generation. The bulk of the works on display, dated between 1979 and 1980, were executed on cardboard and are weighted down by the heaviness of the materials applied to them. Silver is the recurring hue, though there is great variation throughout Pérez Monzón’s abstract designs, suggesting a marriage—or dual rejection—of the formerly warring genres of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.

Of course, the most attention-grabbing works in the show are the largest in scale. One such, Tramas, 1989/2015, is a wall drawing comprising black lines that form a landscape of mountainous shards. Another wall piece, Threads, 1984/2015, is rendered in thread and tape. Vilos, 1981/2015, takes the artist’s love affair with lines into the three-dimensional by way of a dense web of wire and elastic thread held in place by stones. In the same room, one finds the best drawings in the exhibition—the untitled, simple, yet refined meditations of a poet with pen in hand.