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  • Wifredo Lam | Cultural Encounters

    Wifredo Lam (Cuba, b. 1902 – Paris, d. 1982) Wifredo Lam was born in Cuba to an Afro-Cuban mother, Ana Serafina Castilla, and Yam Lam, a Cantonese immigrant employed at a sugar plantation. He was raised in the barrio chino of Sagua La Grande, in Las Villas province (today Santa Clara). Lam’s father maintained his Chinese religious beliefs, as well as other elements of Chinese culture, such as traditional calligraphy. Lam’s aunt, with whom he was very close, was a santera of the Afro-Cuban religion; nevertheless, his mother, who had Spanish as well as African roots, chose to raise him in the Roman Catholic and European cultural traditions. Lam’s artistic talents soon won him international acclaim; however, due to US restrictions on Chinese immigration, he was not able to visit New York City until 1946, even though his work had been shown there continually since the early 1940s. Having worked with cubists and surrealists while living in Spain and France during the 1920s and 1930s, Lam employed a synthesis of surrealism and cubism in his art—with major influences from Picasso, Cézanne, and Matisse—while also integrating his Afro-Cuban heritage; particularly his interest in African “primitivism” and the sculptural traditions of New Guinea. As a major Latin American artist who also played a vital role in the Parisian avant-garde, Lam has been widely studied and debated. For instance, some scholars contend that there is no formal evidence of his Chinese heritage in his work. Roberto Cobas, curator of Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, has argued that if there is a trace of Chinese culture in Lam’s oeuvre, it shows itself only in the discipline with which he devoted himself to his work on paper—drawing, etching, aquatint, lithographs—during the 1960s through the 1980s. Speaking generally, Cobas explains: “Beyond the simultaneity of his creations, whether they are close to figuration or abstraction, or the approach to his themes, new or recurrent, Lam imposes a singular plastic resource. This is due to the alignment of the elements coming from the cultures—Afro-Caribbean, European, Asiatic and the Pacific Islands.” back to collection

  • Tilsa Tsuchiya | Cultural Encounters

    Tilsa Tsuchiya (B. 1928 – D. 1984 ) Tilsa Tsuchiya Castillo was a contemporary Peruvian prtint maker and painter . She is considered one of the greatest exemplars of Peruvian painting for having won the prestigious Bienal of Teknoquimica Prize for painting. Her teacher, Ricardo Grau, had also been presented the Bienal award in a previous year. Tsuchiya graduated from the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes of Peru in 1959.

  • Cisco Merel Choy | Cultural Encounters

    Cisco Merel Choy (Panama, b. 1981) Cisco Merel Choy and Rosendo Merel Choy are two brothers of Chinese descent who joined forces to work on the #PANACHINA project. Their grandfather arrived at the port of Colón, Panama, in the 1930s from Guangdong, and the Merel Choy brothers were brought up with Chinese traditions. ​ Participating in the inaugural #PANACHINA exhibition in 2014, they created a mixed-media video installation titled Máscara china , in which moving colored lights were projected over a Chinese dragon mask, creating a visual evocation of the brothers’ experience of the Chinese New Year celebration in Panama. Merel Choy, one of Panama’s most esteemed young artists, began as an urban graffiti artist known for his visual interventions, which were rich in color and based on principles of geometric abstraction. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Universidad de Arte Ganexa, Panama, and has had residencies at the Global Fresh collective in New York, 2009; Pilotenkueche in Germany, 2011; and at the Articruz workshop in Panama, 2014-2017, under the mentorship of Carlos Cruz-Diez. In 2017 he was invited to participate in the exhibition Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. back to collection

  • Kazuya Sakai | Cultural Encounters

    Kazuya Sakai (Argentina, b. 1927 – United States, d. 2001) Born in Buenos Aires to Japanese parents, Kazuya Sakai spent the majority of his youth in Japan, studying literature and philosophy. Upon his return to Argentina in 1951, Sakai, a self-taught painter, dedicated himself to the visual arts, becoming a promoter of Japanese culture in his new surroundings. He later spent considerable periods of time in the United States and Mexico, where he acquired new influences and further developed his painting style. Throughout his life, Sakai continued to build his connection with Japanese culture, serving as a professor of Asian philosophy and translating works of Japanese literature and Zen Buddhist writing into Spanish. Sakai saw in his artwork—as in himself—a unification of Eastern and Western elements. His first works were geometric in style, reflecting the pivotal influence of Argentina’s Concrete Art Movement. With time, Sakai began to incorporate elements of Zen philosophy and Japanese calligraphic line into his art. Works of this period show techniques of abstract expressionism and informalism, as well as a marked diversity of materials and an energetic approach to the canvas, both hallmarks of the Japanese Gutai Group. In 1961, Sakai showed his work at the Organization of American States in the exhibition Japanese Artists of the Americas . Sakai's later work revisited geometry, this time by assimilating controlled curved lines and circles inspired by experimental music and jazz. This musical geometry uses formal elements of the Japanese Rinpa School, such as bright colors, simplicity of form, and compositional asymmetry, the vivid use of which reflects Sakai’s close study of the work of Ogata Kōrin, a noted Rinpa artist. Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Japanese Artists of the Americas. OAS exhibition pamphlet, 1961 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/4 back to collection

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