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Reynier Leyva Novo in Former Present Today at Blaffer Art Museum

Reynier Leyva Novo in Haiti, 2019. Photo courtesy Reynier Leyva Novo.

The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston is proud to present the first solo museum exhibition in the United States of Cuban conceptual artist Reynier Leyva Novo. Former Present Todaypresents a newly realized installation and painting series to simultaneously reveal and conceal monuments, structures, and figureheads which manifest revolution and tyranny. The works are created through research on icons and memorialization and how the prestige of nation established through revolution utilizes both facts and myths as a means of propaganda.

The exhibition reflects upon monuments and public sculpture in nationalist ideology and the failed journey to social utopia. The first iteration of this project was realized at the 2019 Aichi Triennale in Japan where Novo created two sculptures of 1:1 replicas of monuments in Russia and presented them with paintings of slogans and images cut out from propaganda posters made by avant-garde artists in Soviet-era Russia.

Novo’s work challenges ideology and symbols of power, questioning notions of an individual’s ability to affect change. His works form an interventionist response to the seemingly recognizable in the spaces of public memory, known histories, and axis’ of power around us. The artist is renowned for political responses to the politics of Cuba through creating a new space among Cuban artists who, over the past several decades, have worked across media to address issues of censorship, freedom, and utopia. Novo takes on the same challenges with a heightened sense of formal accomplishment through conceptual works. Novo’s commitment to deconstructing myths while highlighting the fragments of reality and lived experiences that generate them has led him to political activism through art.

Reynier Leyva Novo: Former Present Today is co-organized by Steven Matijcio, Jane Dale Owen Director & Chief Curator, and Erika Mei Chua Holum, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Assistant Curator at the Blaffer Art Museum.