Contemporary Artists of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba

North Charleston Arts Festival a 9-day extravaganza

By Adam Parker

Reynier Llanes, a Cuban artist living and working in Charleston, has curated a show called “Contemporary Artists of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba”, which can be seen on the third floor of City Hall.

Pinar Del Rio, in the western part of the island, about 100 miles from Havana, is Llanes’ hometown, andthe show features 32 paintings by friends, colleagues and teachers he has collected over the years, plus a couple of his own.

“When I was in Cuba, I admired a lot of those artists,” Llanes said.

He met many of them while enrolled at Escuela de Instructores de Arte in Pinar Del Rio, a school thatopened in 2000. “What I love in this exhibition is that you can identify each artist. You can read the story behind each painting.”

The symbolism is rich, the subject matter diverse, the aesthetic styles varied. The paintings are good examples of magical realism, abstraction, surrealism, expressionism and post-impressionism, he said.

“When I decided to do the show, I realized they were artists that needed exposure.”

The idea really was already developing five years ago, when Llanes first came to the U.S., settling first in Naples, Fla., and working with famed Lowcountry painter Jonathan Green.

“I had this vision,” he said. “If I can make it, I want to help my friends.”

Since then, he has been buying art and arranging for its export from Cuba, not always an easy process.

Most of the Cuban art on display during the festival is for sale, he said. A public reception is planned for 6-8 p.m. May 9.