Rolando Lopez Dirube, Cuban (1928 - 1997)

Rolando López Dirube was a Cuban artist who died in Puerto Rico, where he had lived for many years, at the age of 69.

He was born in Havana, left left Cuba for good in 1960, living first in the United States. Latterly he lived in Cataño. He was deaf from the age of eight.

Apart from painting, he carved sculptures in wood, small and affectionate, and stone. His graphic work includes excellent wood engravings in wood, lithographs, silkscreens, etchings, and drawings in several techniques.

He was one of the most significant Cuban artists of the century, as was shown in Caracas when the Contemporary Museum of Art of Sofía Imber held an exhibition of his work.

A book entitled El maestro Rolando López Dirube : 40 años de labor creativa was published to accompany an exhibition in 1997 at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico.

"Now that I am older I realize that childhood memories are important, although an artist should work from his knowledge, not from inspiration. I lost my hearing as a child; it happened quite suddenly. Painting became a process of verification, if I couldn't draw an object or person, I couldn't trust its existence. I am still a compulsive painter. I have sought to accentuate the physical beauty of things, that was the motivation behind the Swords Series, and the Mirrors Series. By using wood and stone, I have negated the functionality of the object and emphasized its beauty. Stone swords cannot kill; wooden mirrors cannot reflect images. I denied them their vital characteristic. I don't believe an artist should work in only one medium, although many do just that. Artists are rich in ideas, and should channel them through every possible medium, the more, the better. That is how I have worked all my life. After traveling throughout the United States, Europe and parts of Latin America, I decided to settle in Puerto Rico; of all my options, it seemed to be the place closest to the Cauto River, in Oriente. Since leaving Cuba in 1960, I have done nothing but my art work. I don't think we can speak of a "Cuban" art; it takes centuries to define a national identity, and we are still growing and experimenting with our aesthetics. I am certain that exile has influenced my work, but in what way? That remains a mystery."

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