Misleidys Pedroso: Musculatura Viva

May 10 2015

Cuba is a cultural anomaly: rich with the multicultural mezcla of the Caribbean, yet long isolated from the technology and values of the rest of the Western world. This isolated vibrance has made for decades of remarkable and highly original art whose singular cultural themes belie deeper, more opaque significance. In a new exhibition, Musculatura Viva, at Christian Berst Art Brut’s New York gallery, new works from Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso fuse overtly Cuban visual language with an extra measure of mystery.


The exhibition’s title is Spanish for “live musculature,” alluding to its robust graphic forms which range in size from just a few inches to over 8 feet tall. The dignified, forceful multicolored figures, many of which look at the viewer with intense, perhaps even kindly gazes. In a number of the pieces, half of the figure’s flesh is stripped away to reveal striated musculature.

Misleidys has been deaf since birth, a corollary to Cuba’s own longtime isolation. Nobody has spoken to Misleidy’s about her work and despite its ostensible legibility, it nonetheless remains entirely cryptic:

“As a result [of Cuba’s isolation], Misleidys has experienced a kind of double isolation and produced an oeuvre that is almost entirely influenced by her internal state, the confines of the family’s apartment, and the social contact she has within its walls. No one knows why Misleidys began painting or her perception of the work she is producing, but her mother has occasionally observed her daughter standing in front of the drawings, looking at them and gesturing as if she were speaking to them. Misleidys looks at her paintings in the eyes, as though she recognizes them—as one recognizes a friend or someone they have known in this world.” –Phillip March Jones



See Musculatura Viva at Christian Berst Art Brut on Rivington Street in NYC through May 31.

All images courtesy Christian Berst Art Brut, with all but the exhibition install image also courtesy Art Brut Project Cuba.