Gertrudis Rivalta

Selected Pages

on view through 05/26/22

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

Thomas Nickles Project presents Selected Pages, the first solo exhibition in New York City by Cuban-born artist Gertrudis Rivalta curated by Jacqueline Loss, Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut.

Selected Pages, a solo exhibition by Gertrudis Rivalta, delves into the women’s and girl’s magazines with which this internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary artist grew up in Cuba, in order to challenge their standardized paradigms of beauty, comportment, and the aspirations they cultivated within their readers. Rivalta’s re-scaling of five of the magazine’s covers using a mixed technique— consisting of sequins and oil on canvas—along with her bringing to life the magazine’s cuquitas (paper cut-out dolls) within dioramas surface centuries’ old legacies of national and transatlantic racial and class tensions as they are lived today by embodied Black female subjects.

More than an in-depth examination into the visual language of publicity within Cuban socialist culture, this exhibition transports viewers into the psychological imprint of this decade on Rivalta’s creations wherein distinct temporalities, as well as political and economic geographies convene. The puppet theaters located in the back of the gallery house the paper cut-out dolls that coincidentally resided in the back of those very publications. Like Rivalta who lives in Havana and Alicante, the characters within her puppet theaters straddle continents. Cuquita, one of the two paper cut-out dolls, is described by the artist as happier and lighter than Matryoshka, the darker and more sorrowful one, yet both of their faces resemble the artist’s. Rivalta’s inclusion of the Sovietized Black Cuban Matryoshka attempts to compensate for what she experienced as a dearth of such expressions of hybridity among, not just the pages of Mujeres and Muchacha magazines, but throughout the material culture of her childhood.
 
Often treasured by children, sequins heighten the already-existing aura of the magazines’ covers in Rivalta’s renditions. The faces and poses of young women, along with the environment in which they are enveloped, transmit this sensation. Viewers cannot help but question who the true heroes of history are and whether the entire narrative of the victors and the vanquished is worthy of repeating. This exhibition of largely new work highlights that common thread among the different series of Rivalta’s oeuvre created across approximately three decades.

Born in 1971 in Santa Clara, Cuba, Gertrudis Rivalta's trajectory includes drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, video and performance. A graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte de la Habana (Havana) in 1996, Rivalta has exhibited her work in some of the most important Cuban galleries and museums, such as the Centro Wifredo Lam, the Fototeca of Cuba, the 23rd and 12th Gallery, the Cuban National Museum of Fine Arts, the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, as well as in international spaces such as the Art Museum of Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico), the Cultural Center (Manila, The Philippines), the Iber-American Museum of Contemporary Art (Badajoz, Spain), Track 16 Gallery (LA, California), Gallery Adhoc (Vigo, Spain), and Espace Croix-Baragnon (Toulouse, France). Many of these were curated in collaboration with British art critic, Kevin Power, who pioneered Rivalta’s work. Among her most acclaimed solo shows is Evans or not Evans (1998, University of Alicante) that revisited the work of the North American photographer Walker Evans in Cuba. Her oeuvre formed part of the 1997 group show Queloides, the first-ever exhibit in Cuba focusing on race and the place that Black people occupy in Cuban society. A recipient of numerous awards, Rivalta explores racial inheritance, the construction of identity, and the Soviet presence in Cuba at length in exhibitions such as the 2005 Fnimaniev at the Aural Gallery (Alicante, Spain). Rivalta participated in the Valencia/Sao Paolo Biennal (2008) with curators Ticio Escobar and Kevin Power and in collateral exhibitions of diverse editions of the Havana Biennial. In 2009, she participated in the itinerant exhibition, Creators of the 20th Century, curated by Marisa Oropesa, which included some of the most important female artists of the 20th century as Frida Kahlo, Eva Lootz, Candida Hofer, Méret Oppenheim, and Yoko Ono. She has lectured at the Cervantes Institute in Berlin, the University of Alicante, the University of Jaén, Casa de las Américas, the University of Connecticut, and Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut, USA). Her essays and artworks have appeared in Caviar with Rum (ed. Jacqueline Loss and José Manuel Prieto), Art Cuba: The New Generation (ed. Holly Block), and Nosotros los más infieles: Narraciones críticas del arte cubano 1993–2005 (ed. Andrés Santana), among other publications. Her work is held in collections in Cuba, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, and the United States.

This exhibition was made possible with the collaboration of the Hemispheric Institute’s “World Making and Social Emergency” initiative with the generous support of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and New York University. 

GR_01_Cheerleaders_2009_LO-RES.jpg

Cheerleaders, 2009

Sequins and oil on canvas

57.5”W x 77.25”H

GR_02_Guajira_LO-RES_DSC_0051 copy.jpg

Guajira, 2021

Sequins and oil on canvas

57.5”W x 79.5”H

tnp_3403.jpg

Corte de pelo, 2021

Sequins and oil on canvas

59.25”W x 79.74”H

GR_04_Cimarrona_DSC_0008_FINAL_LO-RES.jpg

Cimarrona, 2022

Sequins and oil on canvas

59”W x 79.75”H

IMG_9173.jpg

Cimarrona II (Realizing the Freedom of the Forest), 2022

Sequins and oil on canvas

57.5”W x 79.75”H

GR_06_Tres Tiempo. Uno_DSC_0113-LO-RES.jpg

Tres Tiempos. Uno., 2021

Mixed Media

40.75” x 29.25”W x 4”

GR_07_Tres Tiempo. Dos_LO-RES_DSC_0121.jpg

Tres Tiempos. Dos., 2022

Mixed Media

40.75” x 29.25”W x 4

GR_08_ Tres Tiempos. Tres_DSC_0139-2-LO-RES.jpg

Tres Tiempos. Tres., 2022

Mixed Media

40.75” x 29.25”W x 4

GR_09_Renglones_LO_RES_DSC_0094.jpg

Renglones, 2022

Mixed Media

22.5” x 14.75” x 5”

GR_10_Presente_LO-RES_DSC_0086.jpg

Presente, 2022

Mixed Media

22.5” x 14.75” x 5”

GR_11_Entendederas_LO_RES_DSC_0073.jpg

Entendederas, 2022

Mixed Media

22.5” x 14.75” x 5”

GR_12_Mil Ideas_LO-RES_DSC_0105.jpg

Mil Ideas, 2009

Chinese ink and pencil on paper

49.75”W x 37”H