In Cuba, Bar Trays from Found Objects

General / People / Places / Products / March 26, 2018

They must some be of the least-likely exchanges in all the world of Latin American art.

Cuban artist Damian Aquiles trades blank canvases for oil cans, paint cans, car doors and roofs.

“I call them working materials,” the artist, educated at Cuba’s National Art Schools, says. “It’s mostly metal – when I work with them I change them.”

He takes his found objects and transforms them into luxury bar trays by painting vivid hues onto them, dousing them in gasoline – and firing them up.

He says he works with the materials for the concentrated energy that emanates from them – that by recycling them, he uses their previous life, energy and history to tell his own story. “The trays are a bridge between my art and the FACUNDO rum collection,” he says.

The FACUNDO Rum Collection is created from rum in the Bacardi family’s private reserves; Bacardi was founded in Cuba in
1862, and The FACUNDO Rum Collection was launched in 2012 in honor of Bacardi’s 150th anniversary.

“Damian’s in partnership with FACUNDO, which is involved in Latin American art,” says a FACUNDO spokesperson. “Our art is in the brand of rum.”

Aquiles’ bar trays are much sought after: Among his collectors are Beth Rudin de Woody, Paul & Nancy Pelosi and Rita Schrager.

Beyond his art, Aquiles and his wife Pamela Ruiz are known in Cuba for their home – a work of art itself that’s been featured in a number of design publications. There, they host celebrity guests such as Katy Perry, Will and Jada Smith and Rufus Wainwright.

On March 28, 10 of his bar trays will be featured in an exhibition at the Highline Gallery in Manhattan, his first New York exhibition since 2004.

Scrap metal, vivid paint color, torched-up gasoline, and luxury bar trays for a high-end rum?

Sounds like art to me.

But if you want to see it, you’ll need to do so before April 7, when the exhibition closes.

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Mike Welton

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