November 21, 2017

Torrance Art Museum’s “The Cuban Matrix,” Disappoints with Bleak Artwork

This photo displayed in the Torrance Art Museum is titled, "Los Secretos (Secrets)" and is a collection of digital prints, created by Esterio Segura.

By Megan Sullivan

Executive Arts Editor

 Cuba is recognized for its vibrant culture and fresh lifestyle, but “The Cuban Matrix,” an art exhibit at Torrance Art Museum, failed to express the exotic flavors of the island state with its bleak artwork.
“The Cuban Matrix,” contains a wide range of mediums which showcased the broad talents of the artists. However the lack of specificity of culture, the weak connection to the central theme and the few works displayed greatly diminished the effects of the exhibit and left the viewer unsatisfied with the work.
“The Cuban Matrix,” features works by a collection of Latin American artists including Ariamma Contino, Francisco Maso, Jorge Otero Escobar, Reynier Leyva Novo and many others. The exhibit is sponsored by “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” an organization that spreads Latin American & Latino Art throughout Los Angeles.
The exhibit aims to portray Cuba in the age of social media and technology. It explores the effects of modern technology on Cuba’s development and attempts to discuss the positives and negatives that come with the sudden modernization of the country.
Since the exhibit consists of such a large variety of artists, the medias used differ from piece to piece, preventing any repetitiveness in the work and displaying the talent of the artists. There are sculptures, photographs, paintings, videos, and even complete dioramas. This broad collection of mediums keeps the viewer interested in each piece.
Despite the Spanish translations on all of the signs and individual pieces, “The Cuban Matrix,” shows little relationship to the culture in Cuba, which makes the exhibit lose sight of its purpose. While looking at the artwork, it is easy for the viewer to forget that it is meant to represent Cuba, diverting them from the exhibit’s background.
The pieces fail to successfully portray the effects of technology on Cuba due to their lack of detail and consistency. One piece by Novo, titled, “The Desire to Die for Others,” explores violence in the cast models of guns, while another piece titled, “Todo lo Contrario,” by Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera is completely nonsensical, as it is just a fan oscillating backwards. This lack of unity throughout the exhibit confuses the viewer and takes away from the major ideas.
Although the gallery offers a large space for the artwork on display, “The Cuban Matrix,” poorly utilizes the space provided, leaving a lot of blank space. Not only does this make the pieces appear smaller and less engaging, it also leaves a lot to be desired from the viewer and a short-lived impression.
“The Cuban Matrix,” falls short of conveying an important theme and loses sight of the cultural backgrounds of the artists, despite the large array of mediums used in the creation of the works. The exhibit is confusing and does not impress the viewer, making it a disappointing display of works.
“The Cuban Matrix,” opened on September 16 and is currently on display at the Torrance Art Museum. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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