Adigio Benítez Jimeno
Adagio, who died in Havana on May 8, 2013 at 89 years, remained active to the end of his fruitful life which, in his own words, took on meaning after the new dawn of January 1959: “The Revolution was the world we had dreamed of. For the first time I enjoyed the true value of freedom.”Born into a working class family in Santiago de Cuba on January 26, 1924, as an adolescent he shared the experience of family members who were active in the first Marxist-Leninist Party.
He graduated from San Alejandro National School of Fine Arts in 1949. His art career began as a draftsman of political issues in the publications Voz del Pueblo, Mella magazine and Noticias de Hoy. Later he illustrated the newspapers Granma and El Habanero. In the 1950s he made his first paintings, in which he broached social problems, and since the triumph of the Revolution he began to paint series of militiamen, welders and women working in factories. Late in the 1960s he began to conceive drawings and paintings in which the characters seemed to be made of plied paper, a kind of origami, contrasting them later with appropriations of figures of universal art. He presented more than 30 solo shows and participated in circa 150 group exhibitions. He painted four murals in Cuba and two in Mexico. His works are in museums and in private collections both in Cuba and abroad. He was a Professor of Merit of the Higher Institute of Art, a member of the National Council of the Association of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and President of Honor of the International Association of Visual Arts (AIAP). In 2002 he received the National Prize of Art Education. He wrote four books of poems.Since the mid-40s his caricatures and political cartoons appeared in various publications progressive press of that time. He designed posters, billboards and book illustrations among which are the sign of Jesus Mendez Prize Press Workers Cuba in 1948.
His early oil paintings date from1953 when he began his prolific work as a painter, illustrator and graphic designer. He was a founding professor of the National School of Arts and the Superior Institute of Art.
His work is in the collections of Cuban Art National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, in [Casa de las Americas] La Habana.En the [Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets] Havana. In the Instituto Superior de Arte, also in Havana. Museum Ignacio Agramonte Camagüey (Cuba). Among other Cuban and foreign institutions and collections.
His work began to gain international prestige through collective and personal exhibitions in more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Dozens of his pieces are included in public and private collections in Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Ecuador, Iraq, Italy, the United States, Chile, Argentina and Canada. And, of course, in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.
A maestro of portraits of historic figures —including José Martí, Julio Antonio Mella, Jesús Menéndez, Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara— and the recreation of popular faces, Adigio favorably surprised critics and the public by experimenting with geometric shapes and allegorical representations, and transferring his experiences of paper origami to canvas and board.
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