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Under The Cuban Sun – Throckmorton Fine Art

Art Scene

Under The Cuban Sun – Throckmorton Fine Art

Stunningly simple black and white images depicting luminaries like Che Guevara, as well as artistically rendered scenes from everyday Cuban life, are on display in the exhibition, Under The Cuban Sun at Throckmorton Fine Art.

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With a focus on the unique formal qualities of light and shadow in a Cuban context of image making, this carefully curated selection of work embodies many of the fundamental building blocks of traditional photography – composition, the rule of thirds, light and shadow, depth of field and the decisive moment.

Featuring work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans and renowned contemporary Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano among others, the exhibition spans the 1930s to present.

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Jesse Fernandez, one of the Cuban photographers prominently featured in the show, was an active photojournalist in the middle of the 20th century who had photographs published in Life, Esquire, Paris Match, Time Magazine, The New York Times and the Herald Tribune.

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On assignment for Life magazine, Fernandez captured intimate portraits of Ernest Hemingway broaching old age in Cuba. Ernest Hemingway, Casino Hotel Nacional, Havana (1957), shows a pensive leisure moment in the iconic American writer’s daily life on the island – gambling.

Additional images by Fernandez show the interconnectedness of global commerce in alternate spheres. Cuba (1956) seems to encapsulate a failure of capitalism through its subtle compositional placement of a decaying Coca Cola sign in an image of a lone gentlemen sitting at an empty outdoor bar. Hat tipped, with a leg comfortingly bent and resting on a bench, the subject looks off into an unknown distance while a lone bottle of whiskey rests on a countertop.

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Another pair of Fernandez’s photos documents what could perhaps be read as a successful capitalist enterprise in the country: the manufacturing of the Cuban cigar. Other images of mainstream Cuban iconography are represented in the exhibition, including images of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in both regal and contemplative moments.

One contemporary work, Havana (2015), by Jane Cytryn, cleverly juxtaposes one of the ubiquitous classic American cars found on Cuban streets, halfway submerged behind a run down local home. Shiny and sparkling like new, the car sits in an informal grassy parking spot. A lounging black and white spotted dog rests nonchalantly in front of a partial corrugated tin wall next to his water bowl, oblivious to the economic disparity that surrounds him.

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Although moments of daily life, culture, cityscapes and scenery create a cinematic ambiance, a sense of unfulfilled curiosity seems to prevail – something that probably could only be satiated by travel to the island and one’s own sensory immersion into its many layers and points of view. Under the Cuban Sun is on display through September 17th.

Photos: Anders Jones