José Toirac & Meira Marrero: Vanitas
September 12 – November 22, 2013
The exhibition focused on the concept of vanity as an ephemeral element in the trajectory of one’s life. Through the integration of several works from different stages in their artistic production, José Toirac and Meira Marrero make the point that everything is temporary: fame, beauty, power, political alliances, wealth.
The centerpiece to the exhibition is Primeras Damas (First Ladies), an assemblage of 23 portraits of the first ladies of Cuba, accompanied by the artists’ representation of the cover of the magazine Vanidades from 1952 which contained an article about Cuban first ladies that inspired the “Vanitas” work and project.
Cara y Cruz is a work from 1996 composed of 16 paintings: 8 of them are of young revolutionaries who were executed for opposition to Batista, president of Cuba 1954-1958. The other eight are of people executed immediately after the Cuban revolution for their involvement in the assassination of people who fought against Batista.
The show brings together a group of pieces that deal with the notion of mortality mostly from a philosophical point of view. The works are from different periods, proving that transience has been a continual theme in these artists’ oeuvre. The concept is treated from different angles, of human decay and even death like in the sculpture Vanitas: here the beautiful young face of the woman from the 1952 magazine cover is transformed into a striking, beautifully executed white marble sculpture of a skull. Then we have the more abstract instances like from the world of politics, as in Cara y Cruz.It is, throughout,the artists’ way of reflecting about the temporality of life, beauty, political or financial success. Memento Mori, one of the audio/video installations, summarizes this idea with the echo of its imponderable Latin message: remember that you will die,pronounced in tens of different living languages.