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Guido Llinas

Cuba Born in: 1923
The work of painter and engraver Guido Llinás (1923-2005) is literally transatlantic. A native of Cuba, he became a leading member of the avant-garde group Los Once (which he co-founded) in the 1950s. This was the only Latin American movement to find inspiration in US Abstract Expressionism, as well as European Informalism and CoBrA.

Most notably featuring sculptor Augustín Cárdenas and Raúl Martínez, the group had its last exhibition in 1963. That same year, Llinás moved to Paris, working for a long time at the Denise René gallery, which was specializing in geometrical abstraction and kinetics, including many Latin American artists. However, Llinás was more attracted to New Realism and Lettrism, associating himself to the latter for a brief period. Influenced by the two movements, he would begin to multiply and fragment the ritualistic signs of abakuá, a secret Afro-Cuban society of Nigerian origin.

Nevertheless, he maintained the gestural impetus of Action Painting. Moving beyond Afro-Cuban references in the vein of Wifredo Lam, Llinás was also drawn to classic African art, African painting on the human body, masques and in particular bogolan fabrics of Mali.

By the late 1960s, these multiple intersections will produce the Black Painting of Llinás’ Parisian oeuvre. Black Painting combines the defense of black as color, in the wake of Soulages and western Expressionism, with an aesthet- ics of African origins, which Llinás correlated to western notions of abstraction.
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