All the works in this exhibition
have in common the fact that they have been made with red wine.
Wine is a material that possesses the opposites of nature and culture.
To make wine, it is necessary to cut, squash and ferment grapes.
The death of the grape is also a process in which the fruit becomes
a drink. For this reason, wine is a symbol that incorporates life
and death, as well as the means to overcome them. As with bread,
wine is one of the substances of transubstantiation.
In 1996, I used for the first time in my work the analogy between
wine and blood in my first version of Ephemerides (1996).
This work is composed of 149 portraits made with red wine on paper,
of the heroes that died in the previous days and during the landing
for Bay of Pigs in April of 1961.
From the middle of the 1990s until the present I have produced several
works with red wine. Two of these works are showing here: The
Holy Sheet (2000) and Prophecies (2000). Both were exhibited
previously in the Lisa Sette Gallery in Arizona (2000) and Galería
Habana, in Havana (2001). The Holy Sheet is an allusion to
the Shroud of Turin. It is a drawing with red wine on a white sheet
of Che Guevara´s dead body based on a photograph taken by
the Bolivian photographer Freddy Alborta. Prophecies is also
made with red wine. It composed of thirteen works on paper, which
include fragments of Che Guevara´s farewell letters to Fidel
as well as his parents and children in 1965.
This exhibition includes a series of drawings and projects of installations
shown previously, such as Sacrifice (2003) at the Art Gallery
of Havana University and Ephemerides (1999), acquired by
the Museum of Modern Art, New York in December 2000 and exhibited
there from October 2001 to January 2002.
Although all the works are inspired by facts very specific to
the history of Cuba (and being a Cuban artist it is something
natural), the use that I make of the red wine gives them a more
universal and symbolic meaning.
Sacrifice (2003) gives its title to the exhibition at Gallery
106 and is an example of my interest in exploring universal themes.
The work is based on a photograph of a Bolivian soldier pointing
at the bullet hole in the side of Che Guevara´s dead body.
This picture is the starting point, but my work doesn't refer to
a concrete historical figure. Sacrifice is an orifice from
which flows a continuous stream of red wine in allusion to any number
of classic, mythical, and universal heroes that offered their lives
in sacrifice to affirm a moral order beyond their own experience.
Heroes are to such a degree the highest point of the human landscape,
who seem the inevitable conductors of the force around them, great
trees more vulnerable to lightning than a blade of grass. The courage
with which the hero confronts his destiny is as tragic and significant
as the passion and death of the Son of God. In true tragedy, there
is no possible success; the prophecies fulfill themselves with a
divine rigor. All the direction of the drama consists in showing
the logical system that will consummate in the misfortune of the
As spectators, we observe the fatal
progress of a hero whose persistence condemns him to the debacle,
but by which we do not wish to see him defeated. His death is
a sacrifice. His sacrifice is an appeasement or act of thanks;
a payment or a petition, but always must have something or someone
on the other side. Call this "other" God or History,
these are nothing more than terms, names created in order to attempt
to describe the dreams of all those who, at one time, struggled
for human happiness.
Havana, May 28, 2003
(1) Ernesto "Che" Guevara
(1928-1967) was a young Argentine doctor who became know internationally
during the decade of the 1960s for his active participation in
guerilla movements in Africa and Latin America, but above all
for his heroic role preformed in the rebel struggles that made
possible the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. In 1965,
Che cut himself off officially from Cuba and left for other countries
to continue the armed struggle. In October of 1967, while directing
the guerilla movement in Bolivia, he was captured by the army
and almost immediately assassinated. In 1997 his remains were
exhumed, found in a common grave where they had been interred
for thirty years. Finally, they repose today, together with the
remains of the other guerillas who fought by his side, in a mausoleum
constructed especially for this purpose in the city of Santa Clara,