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.

Nutricia (Nutrition)

These works are an interesting exception in Douglas Pérez's artistic production, using sober language and unconventional materials (toilet paper on coloured ink drawings). They are also atypical for their synthetic character and subdued colouring that lends them a certain drama, far removed from his habitual humorous tone. In the case of El Macao, he could be alluding to a common phrase in Cuba which draws a parallel between the only way to drive the macao (a small Cuban hermit crab) out of its shell and a person who is entrenched or trapped (voluntarily or not) out of his position: we must set him/her on fire. Referring to the African slave caught inside that old conical sugar mould, the only way to put an end to his condition as a slave is by means of violent struggle, the fire of war, or a direct confrontation with the manifestations of racism. In the case of Nutricia, Douglas Pérez also makes reference to the old slave population, but here he uses the cone as a funnel to refer to the coarse nature of their sustenance that was seen by the masters as a way of filling the tank with fuel so that the slave could continue working. In both artworks we may extend the meaning to some of the problems in present-day Cuba, depending on our interpretive abilities. The works of Douglas Pérez are only food for thought.

Year: 1997
Technique: Colours ink, collage and tissue paper on fine cardboard
Size: 79.5 x 59 cm

Theme: violence race