Ibrahim Miranda, Cuban (1969- )
Ibrahim Miranda is a young Cuban artist who has gained international attention for his prints and paintings. A native of Pinar del Rio, he attended the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana; shortly after graduation he began to exhibit in Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Spain and the United States.
Miranda frequently bases his work on maps of Cuba, emphasizing qualities of water and isolation and suggesting states of metamorphosis and change. The poetry and song of Cuba provide literary and philosophical ideas, deepening the meaning and impact of his prints and paintings.
In Lágrimas Negras, his first print made in the United States, Miranda used an antique map of Florida and Cuba, superimposing upon it the figure of a man’s head, who is crying “black tears.” The print combines silkscreen and handcut woodblock.
What Ibrahim actually does is to use the morphology of the island where he lives as a pretext for an obsessive reinterpretation of himself with the same authority with which god created the world in his own image and likeness.
In the 1990s, Ibrahim was already known as one of art’s innovators and in 1993 he found a place in this interstice between science and art. He began to appropriate pages from the atlas and cover them with his own personal marks so that ten years later the results can be seen as his own internal cartography. He would have done the same in any corner of the globe where the artist’s contextual condition remains unmapped. We are talking here about the internal world of the creator, not the geographical boundaries that limit him.
His working method is simple: he removes pages of the atlas from their original binding, makes his selection (no matter whether the pages chosen refer to hydraulic resources or the country’s politico-economic boundaries) and reassembles them, usually in threes. In this way, he defines the ‘paper framework’ that will provide the basis of the future piece. He then traces copies which appear like x-rays of the maps themselves, very similar to the bone structures of their human and animal inhabitants. Onto this basic skeleton, he adds silkscreen or woodcut prints and drawings. Out of this collage of techniques comes a turbulent rush of ideas.
Ibrahim may not realise the role of his work in the evolution of contemporary printing in Cuba. By using industrially produced maps and altering them each time in new, unique, unlimited editions, he is violating the classical conventions of an art that is traditionally based on reproduction in series. When the form and structure are constantly being modified and the works have to be seen together to be understood, what we are being confronted with is unfinished works of art. For Ibrahim, printing onto maps is a dynamic, open-ended process similar to the processes unfolding in nature on the island and in those of us who live here.