DELAND, Fla. – A new exhibition at the DeLand Museum of Art sheds light on cultural heritage, the environment and social justice.
The solo exhibition, entitled “When There Is No Frontier”, includes more than 70 masterpieces by the Cuban-American artist Reynier Llanes, who with a stroke of the brush reflects on the past and the present.
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“I needed to use metaphors to hide the message I was trying to portray in Cuba,” Llanes said from his Miami home.
Born in the small town of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, where Llanes learned his craft, he used hidden messages in his paintings to express his social and political views.
Llanes said that freedom of speech is prohibited by the Communist government in Cuba. He was worried about his future, so in 2007 Llanes fled to South Florida on a makeshift boat where he now lives.
“(I was) trying to escape the island for six months, so around that time I created a series of new paintings that I called it ‘Strange Visitor,'” the 36-year-old artist told News 6.
He explained that he used that phrase to withdraw like a fly.
“When a fly enters your house, you have a strange visitor. I called myself a strange visitor who came to the United States. I was that fly, ”Llanes said.
Pam Coffman, curator of education at DeLand’s Museum of Art, explained how each piece tells a different story of a different time using animals, such as cows and pigs, fruit and a coffee machine used to make Cuban coffee.
“Cow meat and milk were not allowed after children were of a certain age for the main people in Cuba, so this goes back to his memories,” Coffman said. “There are many metaphors and symbols in his work. You’ll see microphones, you’ll see typewriters, you’ll see different kinds of ways we’ve communicated technologically over time. “
The young painter comes from a medical family and is using his art to give tragedy a brighter perspective, as he did with a painting of George Floyd.
“I did this painting not in the way of portraying sadness or brutality, but trying to portray it in a beautiful way,” he said.
In the painting, Floyd is dressed in white and floating.
“Dressed in white, unblocked, floating in the air pointed forward with this look on the face of almost an anticipation and hope that there is something better, and from all that tragedy, things will change,” Coffman said of her. interpretation of the piece.
Llanes uses watercolor, coffee and mixed techniques, which is a combination of different materials, to represent his thoughts.
One of his paintings is named after a piece by Cuban poet José Martí about last year’s historical protests on the island.
It is called “I Cultivate The White Rose” or “Cultivo una rosa blanca”.
“I love my country. I love the landscape of my country, I love my people, the taste of my food, “said Llanes.” It’s a shame because I don’t think anyone wants to leave their country. “
He also considers himself a journalist, who tells stories.
“It’s so incredibly mystical and magical,” Coffman said. “I think the beauty of this exhibition and the magic of his work is that everyone will walk away with a story and be touched in some way.”
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