Market Gallery with Pollock Fine Art and Human Rights Foundation are pleased to present the first US exhibition of Cuban artist El Sexto aka Danilo Maldonado Machado.
February 26 – March 17, 2016 MARKET GALLERY, South Beach Miami
Private view: Thursday, February 25 – 7:00pm to midnight
Film Screening: 7:30pm
Live performance by the artist: 8:30pm
Press preview with the artist: TBA
Open daily from 12:00 pm until 6:00pm with extended hours from 6:00 p.m. until midnight Market Gallery, 1420 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL, 33139
PORK is the name for El Sexto's multi-sensory event, featuring an orchestrated performance, a rare secret 1960’s film, live music and his first comprehensive exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints. Special musical guest is El Sexto's fellow dissident Gorki, with his band Porno para Ricardo.
"The day I first grabbed a can of spray paint in my hand was the day I decided what to do with my life. "
On a hot, hazy Christmas Havana morning in 2014, a small crowd gathered around a shirtless bearded man whose thin tattooed back lay hunched over two small pigs. The hissing of the aerosol cans was a familiar soundtrack to a risky artistic practice: preparing for a performance that crossed George Orwell’s Animal Farm with Puerco Encebado - the Cuban Christmas tradition of catching greased or painted pigs and letting them loose into a crowd.
Danilo Maldonado Machado begins by writing the letter ‘F' in red. The artist’s deft strokes spelling out the rest of the letters F-I-D-E-L, and on the second pig R-A-U-L. That small act triggered an irreversible set of events that would include arrest and imprisonment, inciting a worldwide outcry for his release. The painted pigs and El Sexto did not get far, as Security Forces intercepted his cab. He was thrown in Valle Grande Prison without charge for the next ten months, sometimes in solitary confinement and eventually going on a hunger strike.
He somehow survived and even thrived, producing over fifty remarkable drawings and a journal while a prisoner of conscience. Risking further brutality the drawings were smuggled from prison, and have now been brought to the United States for their first public viewing.
Since 2008 Danillo Maldonado Machado has not only brought his unique form of graffiti across the streets, alleys and decaying buildings of Havana, but has managed to produce an amazing body of paintings under increasingly intolerable conditions. Painter, graffiti artist, performance artist, master draftsman, dissident, pacifist, Havel Prize laureate, political philosopher and social media phenomenon: El Sexto is also a hero. He reconciles his life and his art, both showman and shaman. Above all El Sexto’s essential medium is freedom and the world is his studio - even prison.
That same Christmas day that he was arrested, the Cuban authorities became unwitting participants in the ultimate Situationist performance, acting out the Orwellian themes of Animal Farm and the raw archaic brutality of Puerco Encebado. By detaining the artist and even the pigs, the arrest became a twisted form of audience participation.
His very name, El Sexto (“The Sixth” in Spanish) is a direct reference to the Cuban Five who were elevated to national heroes by Castro’s propaganda machine in 2014, after being released from a US prison on charges of spying. As his story spread, the consensus spread along with it: there was no crime committed and the punishment was ludicrous. Even President Obama chimed in during his historic visit with Raul Castro in April of 2015, expressing his concern. In October of 2015, after tremendous international pressure, the regime was shamed by an international campaign led by Human Rights Foundation and other civil society groups into releasing him.
"And with faith and conviction: Freedom or death. To die for art is to live."
Now free and working in Miami; if El Sexto jumps in a taxi he is recognized by the driver, people smile and wave and he is greeted wherever he goes. That is, if he is not in NY meeting with Garry Kasparov or meeting Usher in New Orleans or members of the House of Representatives.
The story of El Sexto has just begun. Like Bowie’s ubiquitous Heroes anthem by the Berlin Wall, his art breaks down barriers with its humane expressiveness and universal appeal. Without compromising his Cuban identity, his practice goes beyond the dichotomy of political systems, prompting the public to share his stellar journey.
For the private view of PORK, El Sexto promises a special performance that furthers the radical proposition raised in Cuba. The event is sure to raise new questions, and with bigger American pigs he will realize his long-delayed plan. Filled with a series of high-energy paintings and detailed drawings from 2013-2016, PORK is a testament to his remarkable journey and transformation.
Recalling Joseph Beuys’ 1974 American premiere Action with a coyote in a gallery, El Sexto’s Animism transcends politics with infectious energy, humor and freedom. In 2016 Puerco Encebado (with roots that can be traced back to ancient Crete) became PORK.
Accompanying the pig performance will be a rare surprise film screening from a world-famous auteur. The artist shares El Sexto's critique of the Castro family and the half-century between these two doesn't disrupt the clear message that freedom is the primary human right.
Curator's Text: Steven Pollock, London
'Untitled' colored pencil on paper, created in Valle Grande Prison (2015)
'El Artista Dentro' spray paint and polymar acrylic on canvas , 76" x 76 " (2016)
Steven Pollock - email@example.com +44 (0) 7710 584 865
Juan Fernandez - info@Market-Gallery.com +1 305-517-7743