Ernesto Padron Blanco, Todos con Viet Nam (Together with Vien Nam), 1971, screenprint

Cuban Art Posters: Gestures of Global Solidarity

Teck Gallery, Vancouver
May 28 – June 23, 2007

The island of Cuba, in spite of its geographical isolation, has produced more graphic material in support of oppressed people around the world than any other nation. Posters issued by the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia & Latin America (OSPAAAL) were a new expression of revolutionary art. They were created after an agreement at the first Tricontinental Conference held in Havana in 1966, itself a response to the US invasion of the Dominican Republic a year earlier. It was an international project right from the start, as representatives from 82 countries attended this first conference under the rallying cry: “This great humanity has said enough and begun to move”.

The OSPAAAL posters are only one aspect of the Cuban graphic and poster tradition of the post-1965 period, but they are distinctive because of their focus on the plight of others, and because they actually functioned as communication devices that created bonds between and among oppressed peoples.

The posters were created under the leadership of Osmany Cienfuegos and Alfredo Gonzales Rostgaard, working with thirty of Cuba's most accomplished graphic designers. This group placed their skills at the disposal of the new international solidarity movement, initially working anonymously and for no personal gain. The printing of the OSPAAAL posters was carried out at the Frederick Engels Print Shop in Havana.

As part of an initiative to expand both the audience and the conceptual scope of printmaking, the SFU Gallery is currently hosting two exhibitions exploring the radical side of a medium that is threatened and transformed by digital technologies. Our other exhibition, Denise Hawrysio: Situational Prints, continues at the SFU Gallery in Burnaby until June 23.

Cuban Art Posters is made possible by the generous loan of this material by a Vancouver collector.

Curated by Bill Jeffries.