José Toirac was born in 1966 in Guantanamo, Cuba, and currently lives and works in Havana. He graduated from the Academia de San Alejandro in 1985 and from the Instituto Superior de Arte in 1990.
Toirac defines himself as a political artist. His work tries to uncover the “zones” of “silence” in official history. He uses the official images from the public domain, which have been approved by the censors, presenting them however in a different context, thus inviting the public to “read” them in a new light.
A clear example of this process is the series Con Permiso de la Historia (With History’s Permission). In 1961, over two years after the revolution, Fidel Castro returned to the Sierra Maestra mountains, to stage the “War Photographs”, choreographed by fashion photographer Korda, to recreate the pictures taken during the actual revolution: the original images were not sufficiently flattering. Thus, Toirac decided to re-create those same images using different characters: if history could be recreated once, why not recreate it one more time?
Every political artist works by necessity with his local reality using the references of his own context to show a universal process. In his “Ulysses and Achilles” he uses the images of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara: as in Greek mythology, in every culture there is a hero that dies for glory and another that lives with it, validating a universal concept with a local phenomenon.
His work is included in many private and public collections throughout the world. Among them the Centre George Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) New York, Bronx Museum, Museo del Barrio and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba.