Glenda León is a visual artist based in La Habana and Madrid. Her work expands from drawing to video art, including installation, objects, and photography. She is interested in interstices between visible and invisible, between sound and silence, between ephemeral and eternal. Through this interview, she talks about her career and exposes us her opinion on the role of Caribbean art in contemporary art.
Could you tell us more about you and your artistic career?
I was born in La Habana in 1976. At the moment i am living and working between Madrid and La Habana as i have a research grant from the Spanish government.
My career started already 13 years ago, but oviously, it has been influenced buy all I have experienced, read and studied before. Like having studied Art History at the University of Havana, training as a classical dancer for around 10 years and studying at the Academy of Visual Arts in the secondary level (from 12 to 14 years old).
Later, in 2005 I moved to Cologne, Germany to make a Master in New Media Arts at the KHM, an experience that enriched my life and career in an incalculable way.
How do you define your work, and what are your favorite subjects/inspirations?
Someone has called me a lyrical-conceptual artist.. and I quite like it. I think almost everything I see or experience are potential sources of inspiration. Revisited places in my work are the Nature (image of a tree, a starry night, the sea, the sky and clouds) because I believe we are becoming every day more disconnected from nature and therefore from ourselves.
But I am also interested in creating an absurdity that make sense, by deconstructing an object and adding a title I am creating a new meaning from an apparently absurd result.
You are originally from La Habana, Do you claim yourself as a Caribbean artist?
I am not interested in claiming myself as a Caribbean artist. I’m very proud and happy to be born in a Caribbean Island, but I believe art is an international language, to understand a work of art you don’t have to know from where is the artist or listening to him or her telling you a story. Art should communicate autonomously and I think in my work you can hardly say from where I am.
You live between Madrid and la Habana, how is Caribbean art represented in Madrid? What are the differences in the representation of Caribbean Art between La Habana and Europe?
Je ne crois pas qu’il existe une grande connaissance de l’art des Caraïbes en Europe en général. À la Havane, j’ai étudié l’art caribéen à l’université avec un grand professeur, Yolanda Wood. Elle m’a fait prendre conscience de la différence entre les Caraïbes et l’Amérique Latine, que j’ignorais totalement jusque-là.
What is your opinion on the representation of Contemporary Art of the Caribbean?
I’ve been part of a great show in the Brooklyn Museum in NYC, that it was just focused in art from the Caribbean, curated by Tumelo Mosaka; also in the I Trienal Internacional del Caribe, at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, in Santo Domingo, República Dominicana. But I think that the best way to show Latin and Caribbean artists in the word is to insert them within artist from the mainstream, instead of doing all these regional exhibitions. The same happens with art made by women, by gays, etc…Those shows are more didactic for me, and perhaps are necessary for a time, but I don’t feel comfortable with being in those nominal “cages”.
What are your upcoming projects, exhibitions or collections?
This year I will be part of next Havana Biennial with 2 collateral projects; a group show in La Rocca, Centro per l´Arte Contemporanea, Umbertide, Perugia, Italy; art fair Fiac with my French gallery Dominique Fiat; probably Loop video art fair in Barcelona with my NY gallery MagnanMetz; and next year a solo show in Centre d’Art Contemporain du Château des Adhémar … an old castle that I will re-enchant!