René Francisco Rodriguez

Image de Kristine Cinate

René Francisco Rodriguez, the sociological and political pointillist

    Born in Holguín in 1960, René Francisco is one of the most important contemporary Cuban artists. He attended the ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) from 1977 to 1982, the year of his diploma. In 1989, he became a teacher there and was very popular because of his unorthodox methods. Experimentation, pedagogy, and community intervention define for René Francisco a work which is used as an agent of transformation and which constitutes a tool for his mobilizing power. This change was carried by this generation of Cuban artists who firmly believed in the role of art as a driving force and a tool to transfigure life, a movement that marked a new artistic philosophy in Cuba. René Francisco notably taught artists such as Alexandre Arrechea, Wilfredo Prieto and Duvier del Dago Fernandez who subsequently acquired notoriety on the international artistic scene.

René Francisco is an artist who has worked extensively for the cause of conceptual art and community development. For him, art is a means of research and social transformation, a way of transgressing the conscience of peoples, as an object of denunciation that draws on sciences such as sociology and psychology. Thus, René Francisco leaves the traditional framework of the exhibition, modifies his language, and goes in search of experimentation, community intervention and the bases of an education attempting to bring together pedagogy, art and life. His work led to the creation of the famous project: Desde una Pragmatica Pedagogica (DUPP), an important new educational initiative of the Higher Institute of Art. For many years, René Francisco was therefore professor and director of the DUPP gallery, which had a significant ideological impact both locally and internationally. He won - with the DUPP gallery - the National Curator's Prize awarded by the National Council of Visual Arts in 2001; and in 2000, the UNESCO Arts Prize at the 7th Havana Biennale. In 2007, at the Venice Biennale, René Francisco presented all the work he has carried out since 2003 in favor of El Romerillo, one of the slums of Havana. Having received a grant from a Berlin foundation, René Francisco then decided to use it to help the inhabitants of this district where, among other things, he renovated houses and gardens.

Next to this unfailing commitment, what René Francisco loves the most is painting. He uses a meticulous, pointillist technique with a spatula. Most of his paintings are themed on sociology and politics.

In 2001, he received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California. He was artist in residence in various institutions, notably at the Mataro Art Center in Barcelona - Spain (2008); the Cuban Artists Fund, New York (2004); the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2004); the Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf - Germany (2003); Artist residency Hersliya - Israel (1999); La Chaux-de-Fonds Museum of Fine Arts - Switzerland (1997); and the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen (1996).

He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Central and South America, China, and Europe. He notably participated in the Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2007, the 26th Sao Paulo Biennale in 2004, the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale in 2009 and his participations since 1997 have not been counted at the Havana Biennials.

Some of his most notable personal exhibitions are: “paintings of yesterday and tomorrow” (Galerie Servando, Havana, 2010); Performer (Villa Manuela gallery, Havana, 2009); Two points of view (Pan American Art Projects, Miami, 2008); Nin's yard (9th biennial of Havana, Miramar Shopping Center, Havana, 2006); “List pending” (Galerie Nina Menocal, Mexico DF - Mexico, 2005); “Debt Adjustment” (8th Havana Biennial, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, 2003); “Down with René Francisco” (Galerie 106, Austin, Texas, 2002); and “Tubosutra” (Goch Museum, Germany, 2001 / Habana Gallery, Havana, 1999).