Down the same streets once plied by the legendary Cuban bookie and brothel owner Alberto Yarini, and just a stone’s throw from the house where Cuba’s National Hero José Martí was born, a new art gallery with the potential to make its own history has emerged: the Galería Taller Gorría (Gorría Studio/ Gallery), at 214 San Isidro, in the heart of Old Havana. It’s a place meant to focus on the creation of contemporary art, in an environment that encourages experimentation and the search for new forms of expression.
GTG draws on the rich history of visual arts in Cuba and in particular, the San Isidro neighborhood itself, with a general emphasis on creation and creative genius both inside and outside Cuba. During the two years since the gallery opened, it has hosted exhibitions by famous artists such as Lázaro Saavedra, René Francisco, Rocío Hernández, Carlos Quintana, Eduardo Abela (junior), among others. Performing artists like Kelvis Ochoa, David Torrens and the group Nube Roja (Red Cloud) have also appeared, breaking with any preconceptions about an art gallery confined to a single genre.
At GTG, “there’s always an eye open…”
The gallery, created by one of Cuba’s best known actors, Jorge Perugorría, himself a recognized painter, is designed to “serve as a space where the Cuban and international artistic avant garde come together,” building momentum with each exhibition, concert or workshop, with the community playing a central role. The gallery keeps a watchful eye on all things creative and interesting, positioning itself at the forefront of Cuba related artistic events. A key example was the exhibition Al pan, pan, arquitectura, which had its opening during Havana’s first Design Biennial. “Our work is based on the frankness of space,” explains architect Orlando Inclán Castañeda, one of the main exhibitors. “GTG is a place where we’re thrilled to be able to put architecture on display, since it’s normally so difficult to find in a gallery setting. We’re not accustomed to design and architecture being part of a gallery exhibition, so we believe that when it appears in places like this, it fosters greater acceptance and acknowledgment of the product. This in turn creates an incentive for architectural and design culture to improve, and that’s our aspiration: that Havana realize its full potential as a city of the avant garde,” he added.
From Germany to Japan: 100% Cuban Art
The gallery has also imported work by visual artists from the Cuban diaspora. One of the most successful exhibitions to date was by Juan Miguel Pozo, whose Huracán sobre el azúcar (Hurricane over sugar) brought part of his significant body of work to Cuba. “GTG has been like an enormous landing strip in Cuba for me,” said Pozo. “It seems to me that it’s a space that could become a touchstone for the most cutting edge Cuban art, above all for its youthful, freewheeling spirit,” he continued. “Adán (Perugorría) and Jorge (Perugorría) have vision and intuition; nothing escapes them. I hope they receive the support they deserve.”
Workshops for a changing environment.
Nearly two dozen teenagers have arrived for the first GTG workshop on Architecture and Urbanity. “I’m interested in learning about things related to architecture, and I’ve been able to do that here,” says Claudia Cordero Quiñones. “I’ve had a great time, and even better, I’ve made new friends.”
The students began with stories from their neighborhood, San Isidro, but left knowing about the Egyptian pyramids and the Cordon Bleu in Paris, thanks to professors María del Carmen González, Suleidys Álvarez Albejales, Ariel Palli Miranda and Inclan himself, who coordinated the workshop. The cosmopolitan environment that imbues each opening at GTG has made the space a cultural success where music, visual art and critical analysis come together and art flourishes in all its complexity.