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.

Güiro (Gourd)

In one of his exuberant colonial scenes, the work Güiro is an ironic comment on the absurd prohibition in Cuba on the reception of satellite TV channels whose service is only allowed to diplomats and foreign entrepreneurs, but not to the ordinary population. These limitations include using the internet and, until very recently, mobile phones. The characters in the painting, although representing the black population of colonial times, are in fact portraying present-day Cubans since – although under different historical circumstances – contemporary Cubans share with our predecessors of the 19th century the same technological backwardness, this time not because of the absence of means of communication but because of censorship and prohibition. The great gourd is a funny, imaginary representation of the camouflages or resources used by Cuban popular inventiveness to obtain access to satellite signals in illegal ways. The alleged illegalities may be considered the current expression of those old forms of cultural resistance to which Douglas refers.

Year: 2007
Technique: Oil on canvas
Size: 70 x 50 cm

Theme: colonialism politics