HAVANA, Nov 13. The Cuban artist Alexis Leyva (Kcho) inaugurated the exhibition A New World this November 11, in the Palazzo de la Cancellería of the Vatican, reported the state agency Prensa Latina. According to his statements to the agency, the exhibition responds to the call to put art at the service of humanity, made by Pope Francis on June 23.
“The most important thing for a creator is to be increasingly aware of what our role is and to subordinate individuality to something greater,” said Kcho. “Thirty years ago he was very happy when he made a painting, but with the passage of time, now I am even happier building a school, putting a roof on a house,” he added.
Symbolically, he put on a yellow builder’s helmet, which he uses, according to the state agency, “in his work repairing homes, schools, next to his town.”
The exhibition is sponsored by the Cuban embassy to the Holy See and the Vatican Dicastery of Culture and Education. The inauguration also included the participation of curator Eriberto Bettini and will be open until November 26.
This is cuban artist Kcho’s third exhibition at the Vatican. Bettini pointed out that almost ten years have passed since he inaugurated the first one, in 2014, “when we began to promote Cuban art in Italy and in this space of the Vatican, something very important and positive.”
Prensa Latina highlighted the presence at the inauguration of the Cuban ambassador, René Mujica; of Cardinal Agostino Marchetto; Monsignor Javier Domingo Fernández, head of Protocol of the Secretariat of State; and Angélica Ferreira, representing the Dicastery for Education and Culture.
Monsignor Lucio Adrián Ruiz, secretary of the Dicastery for Communications, also attended; Andrea Monda, editor of the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano; the critic Luciano Caprile; the Cuban ambassador to Italy, Mirta Granda, and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and Rome.
Kcho, whose mother taught him to be a Fidelist, as he declared in 2018, has been one of the regime’s favorite artists and became a deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power.
In July of that year, he opened his Romerillo studio to members of the Combatants Association of a council of the Playa municipality, in an exhibition dedicated to July 26 in which he took the opportunity to once again exalt the figure of the late Fidel Castro.
Also in 2018, the American media Martí Noticias published that the artist was supposedly admitted to a detoxification clinic for drug addiction. According to the American media, Kcho would also have been immersed in a legal process for a debt with the Ministry of Communications. Stories of alleged sexist violence have also circulated about the artist.
The artist was virtually out of the Cuban cultural scene for some years, leading to speculation that he had “fallen from grace” with the regime.
However, just in December 2020, he reappeared in cultural life with the exhibition Nowhere Like at home, at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Kcho graduated from the National School of Art in 1990, and since then he has exhibited his works in almost all artistic spaces in the country and in international institutions such as the Reina Sofía Art Center and the National Gallery of Jeu de Paume.