This past month saw the debut of a new quarterly magazine about Cuban art and culture: Art On Cuba, published by Fuego Media Group, the publishers of On Cuba magazine. Appearing in English with Spanish summaries, Art On Cuba’s first issue includes articles on established artists like Tonel, Sandra Ramos, Tomás Sánchez, and photographer Iván Cañas, and cutting-edge and emerging artists like Carlos Martiel and Inti Hernández. It also includes interviews with Luis Miret, director of Galería Habana, and Howard Farber, art collector and publisher of Cuban Art News.
To return the favor, and to welcome Art On Cuba to the Cuban art media scene, Howard Farber interviewed Hugo Cancio, Art On Cuba’s publisher and editor-in-chief, via email about the new magazine and his vision for bringing news of Cuban art and culture to the global arts community.
Tell us a bit about Art On Cuba. How did it come about? And why now?
It arose from the desire, the need, to promote the arts—to unite, bind, link, build bridges. It emerged because it had to emerge. Because projects like this that promote the arts, the culture of a country, are not something you can keep from emerging. At this point we had the opportunity to do it—the desire, the will, and the perfect team to bring Art On Cuba to life.
How would you describe Art On Cuba‘s relationship to On Cuba magazine?
Both are part of a much broader project than the publication of two magazines. On Cuba, the only magazine of its kind on the market, is a different look at Cuba and Cubans. It’s the flip side of the negative, politicized image projected by most of the foreign media in my country. It’s about the richness of Cuban culture, events that mark the history of the country, economic transformations, the daily life, traditions, and customs. On Cuba is Cuba, the Cuba of the past and future. Art On Cuba is that in art and culture—a new, cutting edge-project offering different perspectives on Cuban art made on and off the island.
What are your goals with Art On Cuba?
Art On Cuba is a magazine for art lovers, specifically the art of my beautiful country. It’s for experts, critics, curators, collectors—for specialists and artists who expect a different and unique publication. A magazine where theoretical and journalistic discourse combine organically, where the image is the focus. It’s a publication where information and reflection coexist, arising from the exploration of events, poetics, and guidelines. We are a medium for the promotion of Cuban art in the world, primarily the United States. And by that I mean Cuban art produced anywhere in the world.
We feel that in this way, we can support artistic creation itself, and private art management by collectors and curators as well as governmental.
Can Art on Cuba function as a teaching tool for Cuban contemporary art? Is this one of your goals?
Yes, it´s one of our intentions. With that in mind, we will address Cuban art history from little-studied perspectives, bringing to light previously uncollected information, and revealing some of Cuban art’s lesser-known characters.
What can readers expect to see when they open each issue?
The magazine is not intended as a sum of sections. Each issue will have one or more thematic nuclei, through which it will present artists and events. We think of it as a dynamic structure that allows us maximum creativity and an element of surprise.
We are expanding our network of collaborators. There’s a positive buzz around the magazine—we’re always getting suggestions for topics and articles. We’re growing, step by step.
I had the privilege of being interviewed for the first issue. Will you be interviewing collectors in every issue?
Issue No. 2, to be launched in December, will be devoted to Cuban art collections.
The magazine intends to show the collecting world from different viewpoints, but we’re especially interested in first-hand information about why and how you create a collection, which most often comes from this type of interview. Collecting is often intuitive, or shaped by the market. Sometimes, it’s guided by curatorial criteria. We’re interested in the purposes and methods of developing art collections, and in sharing that information with our readers.
In each issue, in fact, we’ll focus in detail on one or more collections. In this first issue, number 00, we cover the collection that Alfredo Sosabravo has been working on for several years—a fairly common phenomenon among Cuban artists, in a context where private collecting is in fact rare.
In this era of declining magazine and newspaper circulation, why did you decide to make Art On Cuba a print magazine? Will there be a digital version?
Art journals, in our opinion, will survive a bit better than other publications in the crisis affecting the publishing world these days. This is probably because they continue to be collectible themselves, and because their content almost automatically becomes reference material for art historians and specialists.
We will have an online version that will be complementary to and at the same time different from the print magazine. We’re already working on it.
Any parting thoughts?
On Cuba is more than two publications, two magazines—one with a social and cultural character and another on the arts. On Cuba is a broader project, which we will announce soon. We are very proud to have the opportunity to present the most beautiful and enduring aspects of our country to all, in Cuba and beyond.