Humberto Castro, Butterfly, Oil on Canvas, 44 x 58 inches, 2010 Courtesy of ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables (Miami), Florida

October – December 2010 – ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries

Like works in the artist’s previous one-person shows at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, “First 15-Year Retrospective” in 2006 and “Contemporary Fables” in 2008, Castro’s new paintings continue to explore visual metaphors based on the concept of historic immigration as the foundation for today’s society, along with emancipation of the human spirit.

“Clearly, Humberto Castro’s work is directly inspired by his experience and those of his peers as Cuban emigrants,” said gallery director Virginia Miller. “But these works have a universal, visceral appeal–after all, virtually every region of the world was settled through emigration.”

Boats, suggesting the flimsy craft of the Cuban “balseros,” are included prominently in the new paintings, along with suitcases, reminders that many Cuban exiles were limited to bringing a single suitcase when they came to this country. Included in the exhibition is a 10-foot installation of battered suitcases, poignant reminders of the trips each of us have taken and those we still dream of.

In his Symposium magazine review of “Unbroken Ties: Dialogues in Cuban Art” at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale last year, David De Russo notes that Castro’s “work exhibits themes of trauma experienced by many Cuban exiles and often paramount within Cuban exile artworks” Using a combination of organic forms and mythological figures, Castro’s work conveys themes related to the massive exodus of Cuban ‘balseros.'”

In “Blessing of the Waters,” a woman stands with one leg in a bathtub, suggesting the “wet foot, dry foot” policy adopted in 1995 that allows Cubans who reach land in the U.S. to remain while those intercepted at sea are returned to Cuba.

“Transformers,” another four-foot canvas, shows outstretched arms of two muscular figures encased in flimsy hulls of boats, a reference to the risky, makeshift vessels of the men and women who fled their land. Another four-foot oil, “Walking in the Depths,” shows an androgynous figure holding such a hull across its shoulders.

Along with the migration theme, several works in the new exhibition feature winged figures, empty cages and birds–all implying a flight to freedom, another universal concept that also specifically refers to the Cuban diaspora.

Castro, 43, a member of the renowned 1980s generation of Cuban artists that includes Jose Bedia and Ruben Torres Llorca, has been exhibiting and winning awards since 1978, participating in numerous juried and invitational exhibitions as well as solo shows throughout Europe, South America, the United States and elsewhere. His honors and awards are too numerous to list.

Castro will attend a reception in his honor from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1st, at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in downtown Coral Gables. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays and evenings.

Humberto Castro: Man in Detresse
Having been born in Cuba in 1957 and having lived there until 1989, it is natural that the central theme of my work would become Man in Distress. Perhaps the French word detresse captures the deeper and broader reverberations of the concept better.

Man in Detresse is the fundamental condition of all reflective beings who live and feel the ineluctable and imminent danger and abandonment of life, its haunting miseries, its bedrock loneliness. As a member of the ’80s generation in Cuba, and a participant in its innovations and rebellions against authority, I also came to witness the incomparable distress of libertarian man in the face of the brute power of a state. It is a theme that life itself has imposed on my work as it has evolved through myriad Greek myths of exile and its epics of destitution—Icarus, Odysseus, the Minotaur. The enormous popularity and ubiquitous presence of these myths and stories in our culture enable me to use them as a common reservoir of symbols.

Theme and concept have always interested me more than technique or medium. Notwithstanding, I have explored many different media—painting, sculpture, drawing, graphics, ceramics, and installations.
I lived in Paris between 1989 and 1999, when I moved to South Florida. Here I have witnessed a vibrant new side to Man in Detresse—his rebirth in a multicultural civilization. The United States, and specifically Miami at the present time, is an intense melting pot of exiles and immigrants. My new works focus on these new horizons which bring forth new hopes and, undoubtedly, their new expressions of distress.

Humberto Castro

Gallery Hours