Over the last several decades, the collection of Cuban art has been one of the most turbulent fields in the panorama of visual arts in Cuba. The promotion and circulation of Cuban art traverses through a series of corridors, sometimes underground, which lead to spaces that are not entirely defined. However, I suppose that these are gaps within our history. I assume that within the cracks of a commercialization that runs through pipelines of all kinds, it is made impossible to carry out an integral study of said phenomenon.
The Kendall Art Center/ Rodríguez Collection has established one of the most widely recognized spaces for the collecting of contemporary Cuban art outside of the island. “Collecting is not hoarding,” recites one of the most lucid phrases regarding the subject of collecting of all kinds. To that effect, the Kendall Art Center responds to a space in which beyond the act of collecting in and of itself, artistic and cultural processes are generated, where the promotion and exhibition of the most prominent Cuban art of the moment meet in harmony.
A space, generally speaking, in which both processes are integrated, achieves a degree of high quality in its repertoire. Curatorial exercises, just like a systematic job regarding the growth of the whole, makes it acquire specific nuances when it comes to a collection of regular art. Which is why the collection of Leonardo Rodríguez has reached, without a shadow of a doubt, a status distinct from passive collecting.
The Kendall Art Center has a list of artists who, far from conceptual, generational or formal simplifications, have managed to consecrate an independent phenomenon around contemporary Cuban art, without geographical distinctions. I recognize in each of its acquisitions, a rigorous investigation into solid pictorial and thematic movements of the most diverse international art trends. As a result, the Kendall Art Center/ Rodríguez Collection seeks to break the boundaries of what a Cuban art collection should be, to demonstrate that its health lies precisely within the plurality of styles and themes that weave it together.
The constant integration of this center within the heart of Floridas’ exhibition dynamics indicates that this collection was born with the full awareness of an art gallery. An art gallery draws from a promotional principle. It is precisely this leitmotif that has transformed a collection into an unmitigated space of Cuban contemporary art outside the island.
One of the main stigmas devised in regards to the collecting of art lies in the apparent concern for the representation of a national art with a patriotic perspective. It could be said that in the case of the Rodríguez Collection, this process acquires a playful sense. In the Kendall Art Center, Cuban art is nothing more than the rejection of Cuban institutional patterns of disseminating and conceiving art. The fluidity with which topics are combined in artists belonging to different generations, promises a counterpart to the artistic/cultural categories and assumptions no longer rooted in ART, but instead in the art of a political Kamikaze.
Modesto D. Serpa, 1990. Art critic and curator. Degree in Art History from the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Havana. His texts have been published in forums such as magazines and tabloids including Artecubano , CdeCuba, Opus Habana and Art OnCuba.
José Bedia, Sandú Darié, Tomáz Esson, Flavio Garciandía, José María Mijares, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Pedro de Oraá, Ciro Quintana, Sosabravo and Ruben Torres-Llorca.