Lázaro Saavedra (born in 1964 in Havana), transcends every art movement in Cuba since the 1980s. His oeuvre demonstrates as much the casualness of a student who just graduated, as the maturity of an experienced artist. Lázaro Saavedra, at once chronicler, irreverent iconoclast, and comic, escapes labels, although critiques from his generation take pleasure in identifying him as an “urban or popular” philosopher.
For his Bachelor’s thesis, Saavedra wrote: “I live in two spatial dimensions: one is the street, the other is the art world. I’ve always fought, both conceptually and formally, to find the street in art, and the art in the street.” The artist’s work constantly questions the ethics of the artistic practice, as well as the contradictions of the Cuban social and political context. Lázaro Saavedra fonds pleasure in giving shape to his subversive and ironic thoughts. Through art’s autonomy, he attempts to trigger a collective awareness without compromising.
Behind the apparent fickleness of some of his works, one may find a complex apparatus of semantic subtleties and nuances only visible to the curious eye. Another facet of his poetics is suggested in a video produced before his participation to the Cuban Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennial. In it, the artist, facing himself, and going through a disenchantment phase towards art, confesses to his other ‘self’ that he never sold a single work to the MoMA, nor did he participate in the Venice Biennial.
For this exhibition, Saavedra offers a transversal overview of his many practices. Beside a selection of videos, paintings, and recent installations, the artist presents his first caricatures from the Añejo 27 series, along with iconic works such as a still life entitled El arte arma de lucha Art as a weapon for struggle, Detector de ideologías [Detector of ideologies] (1989), an interactive device analyzing the level of “ideological divergence”from the person who activates it.
As Lázaro Saavedra’s first solo show in a French gallery, Pensamiento Visual is the opportunity to discover major works from the artist for the first time outside Cuba.
Direlia Lazo (cuban curator)
(Translation: Anaïs Lasvigne)