“Two homelands I have, Cuba and the night.” José Martí
TOTH GALLERY is honored to exhibit a body of work by Cuban master Pedro Pablo Oliva. In Dos Patrias: Cuba y la Noche (Two homelands: Cuba and the Night), two spiritual and experiential dimensions, and two narratives intertwine, correlate and complement each other to encompass the Cuban master Pedro Pablo Oliva’s intimate understanding of his own humanity, as it has been also shaped by the time and place he was destined to live in and to be witness of. Always introspective, whimsical and ambiguous, his work is known for the critical approach to Cuban social-political realities, through visual “chronicles” and “vignettes” where tragedy, comedy and absurd converge, as much as for the lyric, playful and mischievously ambivalent tones of his ars erotica. Oliva’s mixed media in Dos Patrias... depict the counterpoint inside him, a truncated bridge between love and lovelessness, weight and lightness, day and night, from private and collective dreams to the spectral embodiments of sociopolitical unease of the “Now what?” post-Castro era, the remaining ghosts of Utopia.
Pedro Pablo Oliva Rodríguez (b. 1949) studied painting and drawing at the Academy of Plastic and Applied Arts of Pinar del Río (1961-1965), and later graduated from the National School of Art of Cubanacán, in Havana (1970). Throughout Oliva’s half a century long artistic career, his work has received numerous awards, has been exhibited in more than twenty solo exhibitions and hundreds of group exhibitions in galleries, biennials, - including those of Havana and Venice - and art fairs, among other key events in Cuba and other countries. Today, a significant number of his masterpieces have become a part of renowned public and private collections, with many works housed in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana’s permanent collection.
In recognition of his mentorship to several generations of young artists, Oliva was appointed Associate Professor by the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana and awarded the "Master of Youth" Award (2007), awarded by the Society of young artists Asociación Hermanos Saíz. For his meritorious creative career, his tireless philanthropic work-carried out fundamentally through the Casa-Taller Pedro Pablo Oliva cultural foundation (1997-2011) and his essential contribution to Cuban culture, he has gained wide recognition among his contemporaries and received honors of the highest level such as the Order for National Culture (1988), the National Prize of Plastic Arts (2006) or the Prize "The Utility of Virtue", the latter awarded by the José Martí Cultural Society, among many others. In 1991, he was the first living artist on Cuba to exhibit in New York after 1959, and in 1993 his work entered the circuit of important auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. Through his international presence, Oliva has played a pivotal role in the recognition of Cuban art.