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Calgary/Cuba Exchange - Press

Catch a piece of Cuban culture

By Naney Tousley
(Herald writer)

It takes two-to tango and to make a cultural exchange.

The Syntax/Havana Cultural Exchange, an exhibition of 60 posters by three of Cuba's best-known graphic artists at the Alberta College of Art through July 29, will bring back shades of the '60s for some.

Eduardo Munoz Bachs, Rene Azcuy Cardenas and Umberto Pena Garriga matured as artists during the period of the Cuban revolution, which also known for the distinctive graphic style of its poster art.

These posters, chosen by the Cuban ministry of culture, focus on cultural events such as films and theatre festivals, art exhibitions, cultural exchanges between Cuban and Chilean artists, awards, meetings between Cuban and Carribean playwrights.

They were brought to Calgary by Syntax, an artist-run centre that works at the community level to involve non-artists in cultural programs dealing with social and political issues.

All three artists have shown internationally and have won awards, some of them in Canada. If their silkscreen and offset posters bring a sense of deja vue, it's because the show covers more than 20 years of their work.

The exchange was initiated by Syntax graphic artist Brian Dyson, who met a Cuban cultural attache at a meeting of the Calgary Cuba-Friendship Association.

Such individual initiative by artists isn't possible in Cuba, where the government culture ministry calls the shots on internal cultural activities such as festivals and external exchanges such as this one.

But four members of Syntax have been invited to complete the exchange by visiting Havana in October. They will mount an exhibition of their own posters and other graphic work, which will include texts showing the context in which Syntax works.

Both exhibitions are part of Syntax programs organized to celebrate its 10th anniversary of working with community groups in Calgary.