Raúl Martínez (1927 - 1995)

Repeticiones con bandera (1966)
Repetitions with a Flag

Oil on canvas
height: 127cm
width: 147cm

On loan from Miriam Glucksmann


Martínez's repetitions of Fidel Castro, like other works repeating well-known images of José; Martí and Ché Guevara, bear a clear debt to Andy Warhol's silk-screens of soup cans and movie stars. However, Martínez's use of Pop style was tailored to the particular political and economic changes taking place in Cuba. He used repetition less to communicate irony than to graphically capture the nature of Cuba's social experiment, at once egalitarian and thoroughly modern.

Martínez uses the grid to unite these images of Castro the orator, which are essentially the same and yet bear minor differences, capturing the character of the new leader who travelled (and continues to travel) frenetically throughout the island giving speeches which were then televised each evening on the news, each one essentially the same and yet with minor differences. The grid functions as a means of representing multiple events simultaneously, while at the same time slowing down the moving images of film and television, both media essential to the Revolution, so that individual frames can be seen.

Repeticiones con bandera was included in the exhibition 'Cuba' at the Ewan Phillips Gallery in London in 1967, which showcased contemporary Cuban painting for the first time in Britain since the Cuban Revolution (Lucie-Smith, 1967: 164). One can imagine its impact on a European audience dying of curiosity about the revolutionary experiment. Then, it would have suggested the youthfulness, energy, and above all the irreverence of that moment on the island; today it serves as an important reminder of the unique eclecticism and internationalism of the Revolution in that decade of global upheaval, before it shifted toward the Soviet sphere in the 70s.

Edward Lucie-Smith. 'Cuba.' Studio International 174: October 1967.

Jennifer Josten, 2008

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