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Featured Artist: Havana: Alexander Calcines Makeichik

Wandering around Old Havana one sunny day, I happened into the art gallery that was once the home of the now famous artist, Carmen Montilla from Venezuela.  The gallery sits directly in front of the old church in Plaza San Francisco.  I learned there about Carmen who was a close friend and ally of Fidel’s in their time.  She suffered from nightmarish visions and insomnia.  I was fascinated with her work and it’s intense figures and ethereal dream quality and spent some time exploring the gallery. Upstairs I discovered a lovely young man working on a large painting of a woman in chains.  My gut reaction was strong to his work and at first I was a bit turned off by it as it seemed to border on the perverse and some kind of sexual fantasy of women in chains, bound, gagged and tied.  I let myself sit with his images, there were many paintings on display and within a few moments, my revulsion turned to deep sadness and I felt tears coming down my face.  It hit me that what he was portraying had nothing to do with sexual fantasy, but that he was tapping into the deeper reality of what it is like for beautiful women to live in a man’s world. His figures were mostly young well shaped women, sensual, sexual, beautiful, and erotic.  The tears were tears of knowingness, his work was triggering a hidden secret that many women live with every day .  As women, if we were to fully express our sensuality the way that we feel it inside, we are labeled at the very least, and attacked and hunted at the worst by men who can not differentiate the distinctions between a woman’s natural sensuality in her body, and their sexual needs to prey on us for that. I found myself wanting to weep standing in front of his pieces.  To cry for all of us, as women, who have to “tone it down” in order to walk through the world without constant harassment.  We truly do live in chains, although not as physical as those he paints.  We are taught very young to tone down our sensuality so that we don’t attract too much attention from men with mal intentions to use our bodies for their own pleasures without regard.  To be fully sensually expressed is to be labeled in ways that are derogatory and insulting to the truth of what we feel.  Witnessing this man’s work, I suddenly realized I was standing next to one of the few men in the world who might actually get what it’s like for us as women, and I felt honored, and moved to speak with him and learn more about him and to share his work with my audience and readers. 

Alexander Calcines Makeichik has devoted his work mainly to women.  He hasn’t just depicted their appearance, but he wants us to reflect on their invisible and complex internal world, of which fragilities, fears, yearning for freedom and independence we are sometimes unaware of.  The artist makes this happen by combining opposing elements from the feminine figure, thus leading us through the contradictions that women live with inside and outside.  

Each stroke of his crayon drawings on Kraft paper and canvas is a tribute to the emancipation of women as essential pillars of our daily lives.  Not only does he put the woman in the spotlight, but he portrays her as a representation and subject of an entire nation.  

To learn more about Alexander’s work, you can contact him on Instagram at shurik.art or email him at shurik88@nauta.cu

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