Cuban artist seeks threads of humanity

Updated: 2014-07-23 09:59

By MIKE PETERS (China Daily Latin America)

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Cuban artist seeks threads of humanity
Herrera paints Chinese people he encountered in Hangzhou — wearing his country’s traditional straw hats. MIKE PETERS / CHINA DAILY

Cuban artist Asniel "Chuli" Herrera thinks people-to-people relationships are looking up. At least, that’s what he did with his show B-One, an exhibit of 30 works he recently brought to China.

The paintings are the fruit of Project Sky, which began as an international call for submissions. He used both Web advertisements and social media to invite people to e-mail their "photographic vision"of the sky above them, a sight they saw every day.

After collecting the results, Herrera painted his favorites to illustrate our common humanity under one sky. The individual participants were able to connect with their environments in an aesthetic way, while the artist saw his 110-by-70 centimeters oil paintings as a whole – a total image of a world sky that presented itself as a big mosaic.

That may sound like a beatific vision, but the 24-year-old Herrera says it’s equally a warning: that "we live in one same place, that we can all look up and have it, which makes us all on the planet equal people".

Project Sky was on show at the Larios-Studio Gallery in his hometown of Camaguey, Cuba, last year, and won awards in 2012 and 2013.

The artist has been in China since May, when an art exchange took him to Hangzhou for several weeks. At the China Academy of Art in that city, he enjoyed interacting with contemporary Chinese artists and also had the opportunity to stage an exhibit with other Latin American artists, including Brazil’s Fernando Pacheco.

Since then, he has been working in Beijing in a basement studio at J Space, the gallery of the Latin American and Caribbean Center. Besides showing the Project Sky paintings there, he exhibited a series of cross-cultural works he painted in Hangzhou: immense portraits of Chinese friends wearing the straw hats indigenous to his country.