Douglas Pérez Castro(Santo Domingo, Villa Clara, 1972))

What stands out most in Douglas Pérez's Castro’s works is his great sense of humour; a humour that comments with extraordinary acuity on complex matters in our local history, society and culture. Pérez's works hardly ever use humour for its own sake. In spite of being a cheerful, funny person, he never lets himself be drawn into the simple pleasure of amusing others gratuitously. Behind his humour, his impulse to caricature, there is always an underlying critical or at least reflexive, curious, inquiring purpose. His critical commitment seems to be governed by a phrase pronounced by our great poet-philosopher José Martí: "Humour and satire should be for society like a whip with bells on the tip." Although his works may point to painful or dramatic realities such as racial discrimination against blacks, or the difficulties and contradictions that prevail in our current society, they never reflect bitterness, anger, regret or sadness, but rather amusement and humor. One often has the impression that they are not critical comments at all, but simply “painted jokes”, as the artist himself has said about his work.

Comentario (Comment)

This work is part of an extensive series called Stowaway. According to the artist, the series deals with the cultural resistance of black Cubans to white hegemony through music, dance, theatre, religion and politics. In Comentario, this form of resistance is synthesized in a great multicoloured ear alluding to the circulation of information through oral culture, including stories told by parents to children, street jokes, flirtatious remarks, cries of street vendors and even gossip. In colonial times, with few exceptions, blacks were forced to communicate their culture by word of mouth, which not only preserved and transmitted traditional religious knowledge but was also used to conspire against the Spanish colonial powers and to organize slave rebellions secretly. Douglas Pérez’s comment on the use of oral communication refers not only to the current black population, but to the Cuban population in general, since the opinions, concerns and dissatisfactions of the great majority of citizens are not reflected in the mass media, on television or in newspapers, but circulate orally inside families, among friends, or in street conversations where comments and speculations are made about what is not expressed in the official media.

Year: 2008
Technique: Oil on canvas
Size: 85.5 x 76.5 cm

Theme: identity tradition music