From series La noche en Cuba, 2018-2021
Watercolor on cardboard
11,7 x 16,5 in
These watercolors were created from references to the night and especially to dreams narrated in Cuban literature published after 1959. The irrational realm of dreams dynamites any organized and totalizing account of power. The project aims to elaborate an image of a country in its last sixty years, taking as a starting point fragments of its literature, from that which is considered classic to that which has been banned or forgotten.
Cómo llegó la noche/ How the night arrived. Huber Matos. 2002.
I settle myself comfortably to sleep, and suddenly, a nightmare begins… I feel my legs, above the ankles, being pressed by two claws that increase, second by second, the strength of their grip. My body writhes in agony, and I make an enormous effort not to scream, protest or insult. The claws are gone. I don’t know if I am asleep or awake, but the pain invades both my legs.
The play has just begun. The vulture arrives silently at least twice a day. It stares at me, approaches, and sticks its claws again with such strength, that I have to use all my will not to scream. I cannot defend myself.
Working with cultural and political memory, from the point of view of the displaced or marginalized people, is the core of Lester Álvarez’s work since he finished his studies at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana, Cuba, in 2011. In Cuba, his country of birth and where he resided and worked until 2019, this interest positions him on the side of independent artists, those critical and uncomfortable for a system that pretends to control all its means of cultural production and that condemns to a legal vacuum any creative expression without its consent. It is in this context that he works with cursed writers, whose state banishment does not prevent them from continuing to produce a work and an authentic cultural space of reference for new generations. From this exercise of collaboration with vulnerable people, I create works in various media such as drawing, painting, installation, video, or multimedia events.
Lester finished his studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in 2011. Since that moment, he began to develop a career as a creator that offered him the opportunity to participate in numerous collective and solo projects. Among the most outstanding of them are the exhibitions: "La verdadera noche" (duo solo with José Ramón Ais), at Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao, Spain; estado de silencio (State of silence), at El Apartamento and La mano generosa, in the Servando Art Gallery; and collective exhibitions like En proceso: Émergences Cubaines, Espace Temoin, Geneva, Switzerland; Illness Has a Colour (side event to the XIII Havana Biennial), El Apartamento – Estudio 50, Havana, Cuba; Karaoke and El silencio que precede a la tormenta, both collaterals to the XII Havana Biennial and La parte maldita, Norwegian Embassy at Cuba. His work has been awarded with prizes like the residence of the Academia de Cine de España, Madrid, 2020-2021; residence Vita Activa, Instituto Internacional de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (INSTAR), Havana, Cuba; Next Generation Prize, Prince Claus Fund, Havana, Cuba; Estudio 21 at Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales CDAV, La Habana (2017) and Tengo Frío Artist Group residency, Emerson College at England (2012) and the IX International Biennial of Painting ISOLE, Cerdeña, Italy (2011). He recently finished his Master Degree Archivo cinematográfico y audiovisual, at Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, País Vasco, Spain.