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Díptico (En el desierto) [Diptych (In the Desert)]

21st century
95.9 cm x 129.5 cm (37 3/4 in. x 51 in.)

José A. Toirac (Guantánamo, Cuba, 1966 - ) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Fran Magee and Gallery 106, 2003
Accession Number: 2003.85.1/2-2/2

For several years José Toirac has been investigating and taking apart the meaning of Cuba’s official media images. This painting is based on a newspaper photograph of Fidel Castro taken in the northern Chilean desert in 1970. The large scale of this work and the beautifully painted abstract desert draw attention to the heroic, quasi-religious way that the Cuban leader is routinely portrayed in the country’s popular media. The first panel shows the original image untouched by obvious artistic intervention. But by blurring that precise photo-realism in the second panel, the artist has undermined the apparently stable documentary nature of the image. The work reclaims for painting the ability to produce a less black-and-white version of how history is told.

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