Douglas Perez Castro: The Fifth World at Breese Little Gallery
Cuban artist Douglas Perez Castro returns to Breese Little Art Gallery in Clerkenwell after his successful showing there in 2012 (CANNIBAL/CARNIVAL), with a new collection of confrontational, humorous and thought-provoking art. The Fifth World tackles the issue of Cuban slavery, which reigned for roughly two centuries before it was abolished in 1886; the title is a play on the idea of the Western concept of the third world, a global population that is divided into the order in which it developed. In the artist’s words, “The Fifth World” intends to symbolise the state of mind where “creativity and endurance come together to provoke reflection.”
And the work does succeed in provoking reflection: the images are arresting, and Perez Castro isn’t shy in colour or concept. Humour is a prominent theme in the work, with one painting, Resaca, showing an Afro-Cuban servant in a stately home, sweeping up human bones beneath paintings of third world and developed world depictions of war. Perez Castro says humour should be like “a whip with jingle bells,” cutting and jolly at the same time. He mixes domestic interiors and architecture with scenes of absurdity, and the detail is simultaneously beautiful and brash.
Paintings such as Desayuno de Campeones (Breakfast of Champions) and Colmenita demand closer inspection, as the devil is in the detail. Colmenita depicts a scene of beautiful looking cakes, however on closer inspection, the cakes are surrounded by flies. In Breakfast of Champions, what looks like a traditional still life becomes much more on closer approach: the watermelon seeds are actually human heads, continuing with the theme of cannibalism from Perez Castro’s previous collection.
Filled with vibrant colour, absurd, humorous scenes and combative imagery, this is an alluring and thoughtful exhibition and a must-see for anyone with an interest in the intricacies and difficulties of Cuban history.
Douglas Perez Castro: The Fifth World is at Breese Little Art Gallery from 23rd April until 16th May 2015, for further information visit here.