Painting Havana Red: Biennial Art Exhibition in Cuba

Street performers celebrate in Havana.
Street performers celebrate in Havana. Photo by Robin Thom.

Have plans in May? It’s a great time to head to Cuba. Every two years, the art world celebrates contemporary “non-Western” works at the Biennial de le Habana.  This year, the 11th edition of this renowned three-week art festival runs from May 20-25, 2012 in Havana, Cuba. While Havana is always a colorful destination, during these five days in May, the town will become a giant art gallery. World-class art will be on display in the city’s museums, colonial forts, and baroque churches. Insight Cuba will be offering a special five-night departure, featuring the Biennial’s collections and artists. Insight Cuba participants will get to experience the Biennial as an “insider,” and will have the chance to meet with artists, view their exhibitions and attend lectures.

The 10th edition of the Biennial de le Habana in 2009 featured over 300 artists from 54 countries with over 50,000 people in attendance. The 2012 program promises again to be an event not to be missed.  After a stroll through the historic streets of Habana Vieja exploring the famous Cathedral Square, Plaza de Armas, and the City Museum, you can visit several Biennial venues, including the Center for Contemporary Art, Center for the Development of the Visual Arts, and the National Center for Conservation, Restoration and Museology.

Next, enjoy the festival at the historic Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro and the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña. In both locations, guests can meet with Cuban and international artists to learn about their inspirations and techniques. Then it is on to “La Rampa,” a large exhibition pavilion in the Vedado district that leads from the Malecón to the upper parts of the city. Memorable past exhibitions have taken place in this building complex, including the presentation of the Parisian May Salon in 1967. The original idea for this notable gathering came from the famous Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, who was living in Paris at the time. The first showcase featured numerous modern art stars including: Picasso, Magritte, Lam, Vasarely, Asger Jorn, Miró, and Hundertwasser, among others.

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