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Cuban artist chronicles society of China

China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-24 07:00

Luis Enrique Camejo, a 49-year-old painter, has found in Chinese culture an incentive to develop his work from a rooftop studio in Havana's Cerro district.

He honed his skills as a visual artist during a three-month stay in the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, where he learned Chinese painting techniques used in watercolor and calligraphy.

Camejo brought rice paper, ink and an ink-stone from China when he returned to his country in August 2011. Since then, he has embarked on a thrilling ride to depict Chinese daily life and customs.

"Chinese painters contributed greatly to the development of world painting. During my travel to China, I learned many things that I am putting into practice nowadays," he says.

With depictions of cyclists riding on congested avenues, bamboo forests defying gusts of wind and plum blossoms in winter, the artist captures the essence of modern life in China.

Chinese people are also part of the artist's new exhibition, which includes more than 100 artworks made with coffee pigments.

Opened in late November at Collage Havana gallery, Camejo's Coffee Time exhibition explores coffee rituals in modern societies, and reveals how Chinese lifestyle and traditions impacted the artist's work.

"China embodies the symbolism of the lotus flower, which blooms in the most diverse scenarios," he says.

Cuban museums and galleries in the country's capital reopened in early October after being closed for more than seven months during the lockdown as a precautionary measure to slow the nationwide spread of the pandemic.

Meira Marrero, curator of Camejo's exhibition, says the Cuban artist got insights into the use of calligraphy in Chinese painting, adding that strong cultural links unite the two countries.

"Chinese painting style has influenced not only the work done by famous Cuban painters of Chinese descent, such as Wilfredo Lam and Flora Fong, but also those by other young artists," she says.

At present, social distancing measures are in place at Cuban galleries and museums, and visitors are provided with disinfectant solutions to minimize the risk of contagion.

However, Camejo's work is also promoted thanks to the Behart online platform, which makes Cuban fine arts visible through new technology during the pandemic.

"People from Beijing, London or New York who want to make an online tour around the exhibition will be welcome. Fine arts share a common and universal language," says 22-year-old Adrian Fonseca, who operates the online gallery.

"Painting has no borders."


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