Art in Metal
By Ilsa Rodriguez, Photos by José (Tito) Meriño
Cuban sculptor Ramón Víctor Casas Viera, well-known for his abstract works in metal, has decided to incorporate woodcarving and scenography into his creative work, enthusiastically reviving knowledge he has accumulated during his fruitful career as artist and teacher.
His works in metal, exhibited in galleries in Europe and Latin America as well as in Cuba, are small, as if they were models that don’t lose their quality and which can be transformed to scale into enormous pieces. Born in 1954 in the small town of Florida, in the eastern province of Camagüey, this sculptor and painter began his artistic career in the provincial art school of Camagüey. Then he went to the National School of Arts and the Higher Arts Institute, both in Havana.
After he graduated in 1982, he was a professor of sculpture at the one hundred-year-old San Alejandro Academy and for several years at the Higher Arts Institute. His 27-year teaching career earned him the Pedagogical Merit Diploma.
An excellent conversationalist, Casas doubles as a creator in the design of theatrical scenery, which he began with the successful setting for the work La puta respetuosa (The respectful prostitute). Since then he has participated in the staging of other projects with singers and in performances with groups of Cuban comedians.
Standing out among his overseas exhibitions are those in the Kino Zoo (Fulda City) and Tabularasa (Halle) Galleries, both in Germany, the Borderío Gallery in Chile, the Havana Gallery in Zurich, and the Chica Gallery in Vienna. Meanwhile, standing out among his recent exhibitions in Cuba is the so-called Escultofierro (Iron Sculpture), an exhibition of the Tenth Havana Biennial (2009).
These enormous pieces, displayed on the wellknown Paseo del Prado located in the old part of the Cuban capital, have continued to be shown throughout the following years in Europe and Asia, becoming a major travelling exhibition.
An executive member of the Artists’ Organization of the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), Casas is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Development of Monumental and Environmental Sculpture (CODEMA). Indeed, many of his works are located in public places, among them Havana’s Finlay Institute which produces vaccines against meningitis and Baconao National Park, located in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba and declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. In addition, Casas has works in hotels in Varadero and Cayo Largo del Sur.
Also figuring in his work is the design of the Royal Palm used in the lights at the well-known Plaza de la Dignidad José Martí (José Martí Plaza of Dignity), located near Havana’s Malecón (sea wall).
Currently, Casas is busily preparing an exhibition of some ten pieces in metal, which are expected in Panama at the end of the year.