Carlos Garaicoa Manso(Havana, 1967)

The art career of Carlos Garaicoa has been truly meteoric. That doesn't mean that he appeared out of nowhere or that sheer luck (or a sudden market opportunity) exempted him from the gradual upward mobility that characterizes the careers of many artists and launched him into celebrity. Garaicoa has always moved forward step-by-step to guarantee a sure advance without setbacks. And this has been possible, not only due to a large dose of talent, originality and creativity, but also to discipline and an enviable ability to organize

Aquí estuvieron los cubanos II (The Cubans were here II)

The graffiti photographed by Garaicoa on the walls of hospitals or homes in Angola that were bombed, and where in some cases it is possible to discover a sample of popular painting, achieve an effect somehow different from the magnified shots used by him in other works. The presence of a body or an attacked human face with holes in those paintings makes it possible for us to identify ourselves, in a more direct manner, with the true victims of that war. In the same way as Palaeolithic primitive painters trusted that the wounds inflicted on the image of a painted animal could act directly on the real animal, here -- in an inverse manner -- the attacked human representations aim to evoke in our minds the image of the actual wounded and dead. Other graffiti represents texts written by soldiers, the inscription of a name, a date, a sentence ("The Cubans were here," for instance), which bring back the presence of human beings who may have died some days later or lost the hand that wrote those naive and hasty messages. Despite being made years after the real events, the work of Garaicoa about the War of Angola is an indispensable artistic contribution to the memory of those who were directly or indirectly involved in that war, and a very strange monument to the heritage that the Cubans and Africans share. For Cuban viewers, these works by Garaicoa are the reflection of an atypical situation in the history of what has been called -- sometimes in an idyllic manner -- the search for our roots or the return to Africa. A trip that in many cases was final, with no return.

Year: 1996
Technique: Colour photograph on ILFORD FLEX paper (diptych)
Size: 50 x 60 cm

Theme: identity violence politics