Robaina's

Robaina's
Robaina's plantation

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Kcho Estudio Romerillo (Bienal de La Habana) Havana

                        Alexis Leiva Machado or as everyone calls him, 'Kcho', is a very famous artist in Cuba. But it wasn't his prowess as an artist that brought him to my attention. The first time I took notice was while reading an article about Fidel Castro emerging for a gallery opening. This was the first time anyone had seen Fidel in 9 months. It was Jan 8, 2014 and the artist Fidel visited was Kcho. The most recent notice was when reading about how Kcho had brought free wifi to his gallery and let anyone use it for free. There were pictures of all these kids with their cellphones or laptops hanging around the studio waiting to get on. That was January of this year and that's what made me want to see him, the art was secondary. I wasn't able to actually meet him, I hadn't made any arrangements but I wanted to take a look at what people were talking about. Besides, it was one of the galleries being used for the Beinal....and what a treasure trove it was. There was art everywhere, from the Bienal and exhibits that would otherwise be there anyway. Nobody stopped us from going anywhere and found some really great stuff at the back of the complex. To the right of the entrance was a separate gallery 'Sala de Arte Martha Machado', named after his mother who was formidable influence in Kcho's life. Around this building was where all the people hung out to get on the wifi, I counted around 40. That doesn't include the people I saw outside the complex before coming in, standing around or sitting on benches or the sidewalk trying to get on. The show 'Lam, Eres Imprescindible' (Lam, You Are Indispensable) was showing in this Gallery. Wifredo Lam, was a influential Cuban artist who melded Afro-Cuban imagery and culture into his art. Within the main building I found an Experimental Graphic Workshop where they had a lithographic press. I was able to walk right in, take my pictures, ask a few questions....it was all very friendly and open.
                        The Kcho Studio is more than just an art gallery, it’s a non-profit organization that gives back to the community. I had read that a few years ago, after Cuba was hit hard by hurricanes, Kcho organized a brigade of people from all aspects of the art world and called it Martha Machado (after his mother). This group of people went to the worst hit areas with tangible, physical and emotional help, even building furniture and shelters for the suffering peoples. The musicians sang songs and the actors performed plays and a sense of fellowship was restored. His attitude is, he’s been given a free education to be where he is today and therefore he will give back wherever he can. It is the attitude that he promotes and what a lovely attitude it is. There should be more like him but then there are a lot like him here in Cuba. His inclination is evident by visiting his Studio that’s situated next to the small Shantytown known as ‘El Romerillo’. The ‘Instituto Superiore de Arte’ is located nearby as well but accessible only to the elite but Kcho’s gallery is open to everyone for free and is especially welcoming to those like the poor who live in the neighborhood next door. There is a library, theater, two galleries, and an experimental graphic workshop, as well as open-access spaces for the community or from anywhere else.
                       It's safe to say that Kcho's Gallery and Studio is very special and a representation of something good coming from this society. I hope that this and other projects continue to exist and new ones created. It's so refreshing to see and a definite must of a visit. I'm so happy it's within walking distance from where I stay. I'll try to interview the man himself one day but will definitely return for a longer visit. For now, please enjoy the photos below.




Kcho Estudio Romerillo
Av 7ma corner of Calle 120, Playa.
+53 7 208 0966.












Inside the Martha Manchado Gallery


Wifredo Lam untitled 1977


Getting on the Wifi







Behind the Main Building




Estoy Dentro de Ti (I am inside you) 2013 Kcho


Espiritu del Asia (Spirit of Asia) 2011 Cecilia Parades


Inside the Graphic Workshop



Madame Ache by Eduardo Abela 2013


Serenidad (Serenity) 2014 Richard Korblah



Punto Cardinal (Cardinal Point) 1973 Agustin Cardenas


Andy Warhol 1985 (this copy is signed by Andy Warhol)


Fragmento de La Consagracion II (Fragment of Consecration II) Belkis Ayon







Deidad Yagruma (Yagruma Deity) 2015 Isabelys Cespedes Tapanes



Kcho                        

1 comment:

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