JUAN ROBERTO DIAGO
// Born in 1971 in Havana, Cuba
// Lives and works in Havana, Cuba
// Pan American Art Projects, Miami, FL
From the beginning of his career, Juan Roberto Diago has been preoccupied with the theme of identity, which he renders and conveys through social inferences. Thematically, the unifying thread in his oeuvre has been his critique of racism in Cuba; something that does not “officially” exist but is present in daily life.
Diago graduated from the San Alejandro Academy in Havana (1990) and began to exhibit his artwork soon after. He comes from a family of artists and the work of his grandfather, after whom he is named, was a big influence. The senior Roberto Diago, despite his short life, was one of the pivotal voices of Cuban art in the 1940s.
His early pieces were distinguished by the use of materials such as discarded wood and metal, as a reference to the living conditions of black people. Although black people do not exclusively endure these conditions, they have historically lived in the poorest neighborhoods and thus subjected to the worst overall living situations. This inspired Diago to make numerous installations that represent scaled-down houses that look like real.
Since the 1990s, Diago has participated in numerous exhibitions in Cuba and abroad. He represented Cuba in the 1997 Venice Biennale. His art is represented in prestigious collections globally, including the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba; the CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals) Art Foundation in Miami, Florida; and the Rubin Foundation Collection, New York.
Piece in the Exhibit
Juan Roberto Diago // Tarraco, 2017, mixed media on canvas on cardboard, 34 x 22 inches. (courtesy of the artist and Pan American Art Projects, Miami)
… the black King named TARRACO … is the one who invaded Tarragona from which he took that name: he appears with black soldiers, some in red boots, all with spears and Swords, carrying six yellow flags.