Untitled, from El síndrome de Marco Polo [The Marco Polo Syndrome]
99.1 cm x 129.5 cm (39 in. x 51 in.)
(Caibarién, Las Villas, Cuba, 1954 - )
Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support:
Acrylic and glitter on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Fran Magee and Gallery 106, 2003
Flavio Garciandía has been a leading figure in contemporary Cuban art since the 1970s. In “The Marco Polo Syndrome" series, Garciandía transforms the well-known comic-book character Cap. Elpidio Valdés, who fought against colonialism in Cuba, into a contemporary Marco Polo. Like the famed thirteenth-century Italian traveler, this Valdés goes to China, where he adopts the local language and dress. In this painting, Garciandía combines motifs appropriated from kitsch and popular culture to highlight how we tend to think about cultures different than our own in stereotypical terms. When Valdés returns home to the island, he is perceived through a filter of cultural clichés and he is no longer understood by his people.