Ibrahim Miranda is internationally known as one of Cuba’s most innovative artists. He started off as an artist with a defined poetry, expressed into two fundamental ways: xylography and the use of maps, with which he created countless transfigurations of the island of Cuba, generally with a dark, dismal aspect as well as great lyricism. His prints display imaginative and mythical imagery with oneiric touches reminiscent of heritages as diverse as the European Medieval period and the Renaissance (Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer), Russian Lubok[i], popular Mexican stamps (José Guadalupe Posada) and the literatura de cordel (string literature) of the Brazilian Northeast. His work with maps, on the contrary, stems directly from poetry, and had its origin in Cuban José Lezama Lima’s poem titled Noche Insular, Jardínes Invisibles (Insular Nights, Invisible Gardens).
This work with maps is a long series, many versions of which have continued to the present. The changing maps of our island, in constant metamorphosis, were a refined but provocative metaphor for our incompleteness, the indefinite and imperfect character of our society, our nation, and the need for change. The xylographic creation of that imaginary cartography of Cuba, made of watercolor and inks on real maps extracted from the National Atlas of Cuba, was for many years the main creative nucleus around which the work of Ibrahim Miranda revolved.
He has also explored other expressions such as painting on canvas, ink, and wash drawings, knitted papers, patchwork and other combined techniques, generally based on prints, but xylography and the maps have allowed him to deploy with extraordinary originality his secret restlessness and his philosophical, existential, racial and political reflections, albeit in a veiled, cloudy and inexplicit language. His is the sensibility of the Islander in confrontation with history and modernity. Cuban poetry and song inform his artistic and philosophic ideas and deepen the meaning of his prints and paintings.
Featured image: Ibrahim Miranda – For Belkis, 2016. 128 x 112 cm. Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of the artist and 5 Pieces Gallery