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Luis Miguel Valdés

(Cuba, 1949)

Luis Miguel Valdés, born in 1949 in Cuba, is a distinguished painter and printmaker. He studied at the ENA and ISA in Havana, and in 1986 received a scholarship with S.W. Hayter in Paris. He is the founder of the Taller de Gráfica La Siempre Habana in Mexico and was a pioneer in digital art in Cuba. His style combines realism and symbolism, addressing cultural and social themes. His works are in important international museums, and he has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career.

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Luis Miguel Valdés, Biography

Luis Miguel Valdés, a renowned Cuban painter and printmaker, was born in 1949 in Pinar del Río, Cuba. From an early age, he showed a great interest in artistic creation, influenced by the rich cultural environment of his homeland.

Education and Training

Valdés completed his formal education at the National Art School (ENA) and the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana. During his studies, he was guided by mentors such as Servando Cabrera Moreno and Espinoza Dueñas, who played a crucial role in his artistic development. He was also influenced by art masters like Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, and Valerio Adami. Between 1969 and 1991, Valdés founded and directed the ISA's Department of Printmaking, where he supervised 58 senior projects, leaving a significant mark on Cuban art education.

Valdés later received a scholarship at S.W. Hayter’s studio in Paris, enriching his technique and expanding his artistic vision. In 1983, his recognition and prestige grew as he became Vice President of the International Art Association (IAA) for Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2000, he founded La Siempre Habana, an institution dedicated to limited edition prints, establishing himself as a reference in the field of printmaking.

Early Career

Valdés began his artistic career with a series of works exhibited in various European countries. This early stage was crucial for the development of his style, which combines realism and symbolism to address everyday life and social challenges. His early works explored cultural identity through the human figure, portraiture, architecture, and history, creating a unique iconography that has become his hallmark.

Development of Style

Valdés' distinctive style is characterized by the fusion of realism and symbolism, addressing recurring themes such as cultural identity and social challenges. His constant search and artistic exploration have allowed him to develop a wide variety of forms and treatments in his work, without worrying about maintaining a strict thematic or formal unity. Valdés believes that the act of creation itself is the content and the main reason for the result, allowing him notable expressive freedom.

Although Valdés masters various techniques, he has particularly excelled in printmaking, painting, and drawing. His technical skill and innovative approach have allowed him to create works that are not only visually impactful but also invite deep reflection on culture and society.

Major Works and Projects

Among Luis Miguel Valdés' most important works is the mural for the Salon de Mayo in 1968, created alongside iconic figures such as Wifredo Lam and Valerio Adami. Also notable is his award-winning print of Havana Cathedral and the impressive 10-meter mural drawing on canvas titled "Symphony La Siempre Habana." Valdés pioneered the first digital art exhibition in Cuba during the 1980s and introduced digital art to television post-production. He also founded the Taller La Siempre Habana, an international reference in contemporary graphic art editions.

Awards and Recognitions

Throughout his career, Valdés has received numerous awards and honors. In 1966, at the age of 17, he won the lithography prize at the International Figurative Art Exhibition in Milan, Italy. In 1968, he received the collective award at the Salon de Mai in Paris, France. Between 1973 and 1990, he won several awards and mentions at the UNEAC National Salon in Havana. In 1997, he received the third prize at the Steel Sculpture Symposium in Tultepec, Mexico, and in 2018 was a finalist at the Guanlan Print Biennial in China.

Exhibitions and Collections

Valdés has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Some of the most notable include the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana in 1981, the Westing Regina Gallery in Cancun in 1994, the La Siempre Habana Gallery in Mexico City in 2006, the Marriott Reforma in Mexico City in 2010, and the Moisés Valdés Gallery in Miami in 2015. His works are part of collections in museums such as the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, the China Printmaking Museum in Shanghai, the Marriott Reforma in Mexico City, the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC) at UNAM in Mexico City, and the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MoCA) in Miami, Florida.

Historical and Cultural Context

The historical and cultural context of the era in which Valdés has lived has profoundly influenced his work. His relationship with contemporary art movements is reflected in his work, which addresses pertinent and resonant themes in today's society. Through his art, Valdés has commented on social challenges, cultural identity, and history, becoming a visual narrator of his time.

Influence and Legacy

Valdés ventured into digital art in the 1980s, being a pioneer in Cuba and one of the few worldwide. His distinctive style and focus on cultural and social themes have influenced other artists and movements, leaving a lasting impact on contemporary culture and art. His contribution to the introduction of new technologies and techniques in art has been especially significant.