Piki Mendizabal has created a series of new paintings that reflect on the life he once lived in Cuba, memories of which have become melded with his current life in New Orleans. We see evidence of this coexistence in his paintings of people on streetcars, in which he links his memories of the daily rhythm of life in Cuba with a setting that the people of New Orleans are intimately familiar.
Piki's approach to this series of work was also influenced, in great part, by the essays of Cuban poet, Reinaldo Arenas whose writings were largely autobiographical and inspired by his experience of life in exile after the Cuban Revolution. Where Arenas uses words, Piki uses oil on canvas to paint a portrait of life in Cuba as experienced by a young man on the ground, in the crowd, amongst the people. Time, distance, and the fallacy of memory all work together in Piki's paintings to blur the distinction between reality and imagination, creating a powerful reflection on the universality of the human experience.
The artist says of his work...; The title of this exhibition was taken from a poem of the same name "The Parade Ends" by Cuban writer and poet Reinaldo Arenas. The exhibition centers around the human drama of life: to be born, to live, to love, and to die. Using vehicles of transportation as a stage, the characters meet in a constant state of struggle.
My Cuban heritage and the fact that I live far from my birth country compels me to focus specifically on all of the human drama that transpires in the daily rhythm of life in Cuba. I rely on a range of dark colors in order to achieve greater contrasts of light and, at the same time, to create greater drama within the figures.
PIKI MENDIZABAL was born in La Havana, Cuba in 1982. Mendizabal began drawing at an early age, but his real artistic journey started in 2002 when he took his first art classes. From 2002 to 2006 he took classes at La Casa de Cultura in Old Havana. His dedication earned him admittance to the Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, where he attended from 2006 to 2008. During his time at the Academy, Mendizabal tried many forms of artwork, but ultimately, he found that he could express himself best through a painter's palette. At this time, he met Nicolas Alayo and Jose Baro who both served as important mentors. Alayo taught Mendizabal about the intricacies of Cuban culture, while Baro developed his painting techniques.
In April of 2008 Mendizabal emigrated to Homestead, Florida. He had his first solo show, Suenos de la Libertad, in 2009 at the Zu Gallery in Miami. Seeking a city more familiar to his home, Mendizabal moved to New Orleans in 2010 where he currently resides. For the past three years he has taught at the International High School of New Orleans. His most recent solo show, Reflection and the Diasporic Epic, was held at the Mexican Cultural Institute in 2018.