RENÉ FRANCISCO RODRÍGUEZ
Born in Holguín in 1960, René Francisco is one of the most important contemporary Cuban artists. He attended ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) from 1977 to 1982, year of his diploma. In 1989, he became a teacher there and was very popular because of his rather unorthodox methods. Experimentation, pedagogy and community intervention define for René Francisco work that is used as a transformation agent and that constitutes a tool for his power of mobilization. This change was brought about by this generation of Cuban artists who firmly believed in the role of art as a driving force and a tool for transfiguring life, a movement that marked a new artistic philosophy in Cuba. René Francisco notably taught artists such as Alexandre Arrechea, Wilfredo Prieto and Duvier del Dago Fernandez who subsequently gained notoriety on the international artistic scene.
René Francisco is an artist who has worked extensively for the cause of conceptual art and community development. For him, art is a means of research and social transformation, a way of transgressing the conscience of peoples, as an object of denunciation which is based on sciences such as sociology and psychology. Thus René Francisco leaves the traditional framework of the exhibition, changes his language and goes in search of experimentation, community intervention and the bases of an education trying to bring together pedagogy, art and life. His work led to the creation of the famous project: Desde una Pragmatica Pedagogica (DUPP), an important new educational initiative of the Higher Art Institute. For many years, René Francisco was a professor and director of the DUPP gallery, which had a significant ideological impact both locally and internationally. He won - with the DUPP gallery - the price of the National Curator awarded by the National Council of Visual Arts in 2001; and in 2000, the UNESCO Arts Prize at the 7th Havana Biennale. In 2007, at the Venice Biennale, René Francisco presented all the work he carried out since 2003 for El Romerillo, one of the slums of Havana. Having received a grant from a Berlin foundation, René Francisco decided to use it to help the inhabitants of this district where, among other things, he renovated houses and gardens.
Besides this flawless commitment, what René Francisco loves most is painting. He uses a meticulous, pointillist technique with a spatula. Most of his paintings have as their theme sociology and politics.
In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California. He has been artist in residence in various institutions, notably at the Mataro Art Center in Barcelona - Spain (2008); the Fund for Cuban Artists, New York (2004); Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2004); the Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf - Germany (2003); Artist residency Hersliya - Israel (1999); La Chaux-de-Fonds Museum of Fine Arts - Switzerland (1997); and the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen (1996).
He participated in numerous personal and group exhibitions in the United States, Central and South America, China and Europe. He participated in particular in the Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2007, in the 26th Biennial of Sao Paulo in 2004, in the 2nd Biennial of Thessaloniki in 2009 and there are countless his participations since 1997 in the Biennials of Havana.
Some of his most remarkable personal exhibitions are: “the paintings of yesterday and tomorrow” (Galerie Servando, Havana, 2010); Interpreter (Villa Manuela gallery, Havana, 2009); Two points of view (Pan American Art Projects, Miami, 2008); Nin's yard (9th Havana Biennale, Miramar Shopping Center, Havana, 2006); “Pending list” (Galerie Nina Menocal, Mexico DF - Mexico, 2005); “Debt adjustment” (8th Havana Biennial, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, 2003); “Down with René Francisco” (Gallery 106, Austin, Texas, 2002); and “Tubosutra” (Goch Museum, Germany, 2001 / Habana Gallery, Havana, 1999).