The Cuban artist Gustavo PÉREZ MONZÓN (b. 1956, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba) returns from a 30-year hiatus from making art with an exhibition of new work at Richard Saltoun Gallery. The exhibition marks the artist’s UK debut and features a new installation of materials suspended in space, created specifically for the gallery’s location on Dover Street. The installation will be presented alongside a selection of works on board all created within the last year.
Combining art and epistemology, the work of Gustavo Pérez Monzón is characterised by an inherent interest in logic and meaning. While his work is grounded in a framework of Conceptual art, he draws on sources as diverse as mathematics, numerology and occultism, as well as existentialism and our relationship with the universe. Through paintings, drawings, sculpture and large-scale installations, Pérez Monzón uses organic materials and geometric forms to grant importance to space and the sensory stimulation that comes from changing it.
His exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery marks a rebirth of the artist’s creative practice, following a near half-century gap. Titled ROSA DE CANCIO in homage to the artist’s birthplace, the show sees a renewed focus on issues of materiality and space, reflecting on issues of balance and imbalance, movement and stillness. Taking philosophical notions of mathematics as a main starting point, his recent works on board incorporate a range of mixed materials, with repetitive patterns of metallic dots, squiggled lines and amorphous forms. These new works, along with a site-specific installation, evidence a unique artistic language that Pérez Monzón has steadily honed over the years, delicately and sensitively merging science and form. His contribution to the development of Conceptual art, particularly in Cuba, firmly cements Pérez Monzón as a key figure in the history and evolution of Latin American art.
One of the most enigmatic Cuban artists of the late 20th-Century, Gustavo Pérez Monzón belongs to a generation of artists who introduced significant changes to Cuban visual art, both formally and conceptually. He worked with a group loosely known as Volumen Uno, whose exhibition in 1981 is considered a watershed in the history of Cuban art. Influences on his work range from the avant-garde experimentation of Latin American artists; the spirituality of Abstract Expressionist painters; the processes of the Arte Povera movement; and the sculptors of Land and Earth art in the late 1960s and early 1970s; as well as the writings of Carlos Castaneda. In the late 1980s, Pérez Monzón abandoned painting entirely and moved permanently to Mexico to focus his attention on arts education, working on his own practice only intermittently over the years.
Pérez Monzón represented Cuba at the Paris Biennial in 1982 and his work featured in the first Havana Biennial in 1984 and again in 2015 with the major retrospective Tramas at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana. The exhibition was organised by the Ella Fontanals Cisneros Collection following a rediscovery of his work by the great Cuban collector, subsequently travelling to the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in Miami, Florida, USA (2015–2016). His work was recently the subject of the solo exhibition WEFTS at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Morelense, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico (2018), where the artist currently lives and works.