"Ibrahim Miranda is probably the only great mythical monster that Cuban art currently has, so full of domestic (or domesticated) animals and brightly colored little fish swimming in their fish tanks," says - about Kraken - the art critic and curator Orlando Hernández.
Kraken is the most recent proposal by Miranda (Pinar del Río, 1969) that will be exhibited until next September in the Origenes gallery, of the Cuban Fund for Cultural Assets, located in the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana. The kraken is a marine creature from Norse mythology that adopts the image of an octopus or squid and Miranda relies on that legend to weave her most current speech that proposes a metaphorical dialogue between the inner and outer world.
Ibrahim's works can be found in important institutions such as MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York), the National Gallery of Art, Washington), both in the United States; at the Van ReekumMuseum, Appeldorn, The Netherlands; in the Museum of Gravura, Curitiba, Brazil, and in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, among many others and now exhibits for the Cuban public Kraken, an exhibition in which painting dominates: do not forget that Ibrahim Miranda is an excellent tape recorder.
Taking Kraken as a pretext, we dust off a conversation held some time ago with the artist on the Havana Radio program Luces y sombra that will be part of a book —of whom he subscribes these lines— prepared by Boloña, a publishing house belonging to the Historian's Office.
You are a graduate of the National School of Art (ENA, between 1984-1998) and you graduated from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA, 1988-1993). How do you lean towards the plastic arts? Is there any family influence?
“I have an aunt who is a very sensitive person and who was a friend of the one who was Pedro Pablo Oliva's wife at that time — I am talking about the year 1981-1982. Like most boys, as a child I was always drawing, although I had a sporting experience: I practiced athletics for three years, but honestly it was bad, nevertheless it formed me physically, but I felt other intellectual needs.
My aunt realized these gifts and took me to the workshop of the teacher Pedro Pablo Oliva with the purpose of motivating and encouraging me to take the ENA entrance exams. When I went to Oliva's workshop and saw his work, I was very impressed and I remember that he asked me to draw a drawing: I made a portrait of a king —it was a man with a large crown— and when Pedro Pablo Oliva saw him he told me: « you have to do the tests now ”and I followed his advice. I took the exams and passed. Until today I have not stopped painting.
Didn't you have a previous preparation, or private teachers to teach you some rudiments?
"No. I did the tests quite naturally, what is there to do ?: a still life? Well, there is the still life; Geometric figures? ... they started to come out. The truth is that everything flowed without much complexity.
You arrive at the ENA, a site that opens many perspectives to people with sensitivity, surrounded by other young people with concerns. Taking the ENA, what was it for?
“For everything and I am excited to talk about this stage. The ENA and the ISA are like closed worlds. Living the ENA and the ISA was like a fantasy; spending nine years of my life there was like traveling to other worlds, to other planets, to another dimension. There I met musicians, poets, dancers —of contemporary dance and classical ballet—, actors, playwrights, theatrologists, musicologists, composers. It was a privileged place and wherever you looked you breathed and absorbed art.
And did this interrelation with other specialties of the arts nourish you for the later work?
“During my years of studies, I lived that experience intensely, but then I walked away; I even made collaborations with music and theater people — they dedicated plays to me and I dedicated plays. It was a beautiful stage, but immediately after I graduated from ISA I went to Mexico and there I began to absorb another culture, which caught me. Mexico is a powerful country on a folk and cultural level.
Mexican graphics are very well known.
“I had my background and I thought I knew Mexican graphics, but when I got there, I really began to understand the Mexican world. When you are a student it becomes a bit pretentious and somewhat haughty, but when you become familiar with the place, you immediately get off your chest. When you see the murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco or David Alfaro Siqueiros, you say to yourself: I have to start from scratch. After ISA, contact with Mexican culture was the other school.
Full article at Habana Radio