This exhibition presents 40 drawings by Santiago “Chago” Armada (1937-1995), a Cuban artist who first came to prominence as the official cartoonist of the revolutionary forces at Sierra Maestra and then as a soldier who served in several battles. These experiences as well as his later criticism “from within the Revolution” have made Chago a greatly revered figure among succeeding generations of Cuban artists. Throughout his artistic career and his longtime employment at the newspaper Granma, Chago was respected for his consistent irreverence and forceful independence. His drawings were frequently marked by a dark and sometimes bawdy humor which lead to the cancellation of shows and complications with the distribution of his publications.
The exhibition presents an overview of Chago’s artistic practice, beginning with some examples of Julito 26, a comic strip drawn during the revolutionary war (1958-59) and a later series featuring the existential character “Salomón” created in 1961. Other works deal with erotic themes—Chago was known for his disdain for the taboos of a prudish society, a position he expressed in drawings that move between cartoons and high art. Chago drew from a personal and social experience that emphasized the vernacular. His personal and artistic development parallels the struggle of revolutionary Cuba to find an effective voice uncontaminated by market canons. This exhibition is organized by the Drawing Center, New York, NY.