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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Meet Cubian Influential, World Celebrated Artist Michel Mirabal

Thu 04 Jul 2024 | 03:51 PM
Rana Atef - Ali Abu Dashish

Michel Mirabal is one of the most talented contemporary artists and he had a wide contributions in the scene of arts. He worked as a scenery painter for the Cuban National Ballet Company and the Production Department of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). His paintings carry several symbols made out of flowers and bullets to represent his country. One of his famous collections is This Flag series. SEE News spoke with the influential artist for a detailed interview.

- When did you start your career? What were your main motives and inspirations to be an artist?

"I come from a family of artists, musicians, and art has always accompanied me since I can remember, from a very young age, I opted for painting and drawing. 

My family encouraged me, especially his mother who acknowledged my abilities."

He continued that his mother took him to the National Museum where there was an interest circle for children with aptitudes and that's where he started.

Regarding his inspiration, he replied: "I love the Russian school of painting and also the German one, while I was a student I imitated their techniques."

-Can you tell us more about your studies?

"I studied at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana and at the Havana Design Institute."

After that, he was asked whether the artist is a product of academic study or the creative state. 

He explained: "You can be born with the gift but it is important to develop it with study and persistence, that is what will lead you to be better every day."

-What influenced you in your beginnings and what was your first artistic painting?

"My first paintings were the faces of my parents and cars parked on the streets. The curves and designs of American cars from the 50s caught my attention."

-What are your most significant paintings that led you to receive an international reputation?

"The work use first. It won me a prize for the series Streets of Havana titled: WOUNDED HOPE."

"Afterward, I started the Flags series, which brought me a lot of interest from international collectors. President Obama went to Cuba and he commissioned me to make a work of the two flags to be displayed during his visit to Cuba. This granted me an international boom that led to the visit to my studio in Havana of great personalities such as the king of Morocco, important international artists and intellectuals, journalists, politicians, great businessmen, and collectors from all over the world."

-What is your favorite part of the day to work?

"I love working in the early morning, it is a schedule that has always inspired me and when my best works have come out. The early morning has a magic that surrounds me and invites me to create."

-What's your favorite classic and contemporary? 

"I think that in life we cannot remain static, I really enjoy a classic work as a spectator as well as a contemporary one, but when it comes to working I prefer the contemporary but, very importantly, with meaning and basis, I do not like that contemporary art that is done in some places without head or tail, I think that the art should always suggest us and try to lead us to a reflection, but well that is my opinion, I still respect all forms of expression."

-Who influences you among international artists?

"Jean Michel Basquiat and the Cuban Roberto Fabelo, I think that if these two artists were one, it would be something out of this world."

-Which technique do you follow to produce your paintings?

"I like to experiment with various materials from acrylics, inks, resins, rice, bullet casings, barbed wire, nuts, screws, and different objects that I find in my path."

-What did you like about Egypt? And how do you see the waves of immigration to it?

"I have an exhibition, now, which is called EXODUS that talks about this phenomenon and its impact on the countries it hits. My country is one of them and the Middle East has always had this phenomenon."

"But, Egypt has known how to be the recipient of more than 14 million refugees who live and work in a society that has welcomed them as its own and this is an example for the world. It fills me with pride that a nation exists." 

"Thus, it could not be different since there are many thousands of years of civilization and it is logical that they have greater civility and understanding of the current phenomena of the society in which we live. This example of Egypt comes as a ring to me. Finger was the culmination of my curatorial concept with EXODUS."

-How do you evaluate the state of the fine arts in Cuba and Egypt?

"I have had the honor of visiting galleries and museums since my last trip to the country of the Ancient Egyptians. It is certainly a very different art from the Western one."

"It would be so difficult to compare them, as the topics to be discussed are dissimilar and very different, of course, there are other contexts and situations, but what is worth commenting on is that what the Egyptian artists do in sculpture is admirable and their way of working certainly fascinates me. they are from another world."

-What are your most significant projects now? and what are your future projects?

"Well, my latest project is this exhibition called EXODUS. It is, so far, the largest and most expensive that we have ever done with an extreme level of cleanliness and curation, in addition to dealing with highly important topics for the World."

"Generally, this Expo depicts a travel in the biennial of architecture from Venice, moving through several museums in Italy to date, having the opportunity to bring it to Egypt. We are thinking of doing a series on original papyri and thus making passages of the migrations to this beautiful land of the Nile since Jesus came to the present in selected and important passages in the history of humanity since Egypt has always been there since the beginning of time and civilizations to provide ingenuity and wisdom."

-Finally, can you send a message to the people of Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East?

"I want to send my greeting to the people of Egypt and its leaders since it is an example for this part of the world.

The Middle East is a very turbulent place in the world, but it must be said that Egypt does it very well, it is a place of peace, and reconciliation and a beacon of freedom and hospitality. I believe that the world should take an example from you and how they do it, it is an honor to be in their land and to be able to exhibit my modest work in such a monumental culture."