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Juan Francisco Elso

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América

[Phoenix, AZ] Based in Havana, Juan Francisco Elso was part of the first generation of artists born and educated in post-revolutionary Cuba, who gained international recognition in the early 1980s.

Created mostly using natural, organic materials, his sculptural practice examines the complex forms of contemporary Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American identities, as inflected by the cultural influences of Indigenous traditions, Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs, as well as the traumas of colonial oppression.

In a review of this exhibition’s run at NYC’s El Museo del Barrio, The New York Times wrote, “The show is a traditional career retrospective, in the sense that it gathers together what’s gatherable by the artist. But that is not much, only about thirty items, some in desperately fragile condition.

“Elso didn’t have time to produce a lot: He was only 32 when he died of cancer in 1988. Because he worked with ephemeral materials, much of what he did make has not survived. And some late major pieces were unavailable.”

So, in addition to presenting work by the late artist, “Juan Francisco Elso: Por América” highlights forty-five artworks by a group of 30 multigenerational artists active in the Caribbean and throughout North, South, and Central America.

The Phoenix Art Museum investigates the brief yet significant career of the Cuban artist when it presents “Juan Francisco Elso: Por América,” May 6 – Sep. 17, 2023.

In addition to its daytime hours, the Phoenix Art Museum is open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. This is ideal for those who are unable (or unwilling) to visit museums by day. Every Museum in America could be open late at least once a month.


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