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René Portocarrero, cuban painter

René Portocarrero:
Habanero painter of the floras.

I, like any painter, have a world that flows from childhood.
A world that tightens and commands.
This world, in my case, is Cuba.
It is its landscape and cities which are still colonial.
It is the great coloring of its popular celebrations.
It is its women.
It is its insistent saints that assure an I- don't- know- what of ancestral courage in our Island.
It is the extraordinary male issue of our people through our successive history.
And it is also the dominion of its vegetation under a shining sun.
All these feelings are present when I paint a canvas...
René Portocarrero was born and grew up in the neighborhood of El Cerro, Havana, on February 24, 1912, a significant date for our nation.
The day he was born there was a carnival, so then he wanted his aunts to disguise him as an Arabian sheik, a sultan from the tale A thousand and one nights or a simple Punch on his birthdays.
This artisan of Floras and Fans nurtured himself from that color and fantasy...
When he was 12 years old he attended courses at the academies Villate and San Alejandro for a short time; however, he did not get accustomed to the routine and continued on his eagerness of being a painter, but in a self-taught way.
At age 22 he made his first solo exhibition at the Lyceum.
Four years later he joined as professor the Paintings and Sculptures Free Studies directed by Eduardo Abela, and from 1941-1943 he taught Drawing at the jail of Havana, as a way of living.
About the modus vivendi of the artists during the republic, the art critic Joaquín Texidor expressed about Portocarrero: Great painter, prestigious man because of his extensive and high-quality work, he has had and has to make leaps to live and work.
With a bullet-proof dignity, Portocarrero has miraculously been able to carry out one of the most productive tasks that a man has imposed himself over and above the desperate situation of his existence.
How does he work?
Terrible answer we need.
It seems magic or a thing of chance...
In spite of the appearances the reality of our artists can make devil’s hair stand on end…
Portocarrero had his own way of applying color, totally unrelated from the academical dogmas.
He said many times that he painted every day; thereof his unrepeatable technique and grace.
Or like the Guatemalan Luis Cardosa y Aragón pointed out: There is so much wisdom in his naivety, so much knowledge in his freedom that his earth and sky appear through the slightest and untidiest line made by his essential paintbrushes.
With his Retratos de Flora (Portraits of Flora), the teacher gives a beautiful sample of his art to great public.
His Floras can be appreciated by the humblest worker through calendars, posters, postcards...
People can appreciate his stained-glass windows in Lenin Amusement Park, as well as his genius is living through the ceramic splendid mural that decorates the lobby of the Palacio de la Revolución.
Dozens of solo exhibitions and more than sixty collective ones in Cuba and abroad, he won important Sambra Award to the best collection presented during the VII Biennial of Sao Paulo and many other prizes endorse this great universal and Cuban painter.
He died on April 7, 1985.
Nowadays René Portocarrero's work is present in important private collections and in permanent collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, Modern Art Museum of New York, Modern Art Museum of Paris, Fine Arts Palace of Mexico, National Museum of Art of Warsaw, etc…
Taken from an article by Leonardo Depestre Catony,