The Global Labyrinth: Sandu Darie and Lolo Soldevilla at Pinta Miami

The Global Labyrinth: Sandu Darie and Lolo Soldevilla at Pinta Miami


Abel FL Berriz

Pinta Miami. In the heart of Wynnwood. Mana. An enormous warehouse-like building. We park the car somewhere near and try to find the entrance. The day is hot but at least not too hot.

We’re looking for an exhibition, only one in this sea of canvases and installations. We can seize the opportunity and check out some others, but the goal is a supposed exhibition of Sandu Darie and Lolo Soldevilla. Only a small exhibition in a sea of canvases and installations.

A girl at the door. ‘We’re with the media,’ I say, and ask her for Darie and Soldevilla’s exhibition.
The girl shrugs and lends me a map.

The place is rather a labyrinth. I fear a mythological beast waiting inside.
Hopefully we’ve got a map. But the map itself is a labyrinth.
We must visit cubicles B29, B26, B06, Y01, and PH04.

Darie and Soldevilla are in B06. But B06 is in the other corner of the warehouse. We go first to B29, then. Cuban painters. Expressionism. Neo-expressionism. Neo-impressionism. Neo-isms.
We move, looking for B26. Go back to B29. Y01.
I feel like a pawn in a crazy chess game. Or like an astronaut in an uncharted galaxy.
The labyrinth.

Finally, we get to B06, in the other corner of the galaxy.
I look for Darie and Soldevilla’s work. Where? Are they?
What are we looking for? Who are we looking for?
Sandu Darie, 1908-1991. A Romanian boy become a Cuban painter.
Dolores Soldevilla, 1901-1971. One of the strongest Cuban painters/sculptors. One of the strongest Cuban women.
And Cuban women are always strong.

Geometrical abstraction. Concrete art. Cinetism. Modernism. The Cuban avant-garde.
Of course, they were in Paris when it all started. The avant-garde was all in Paris, no matter if they were Romanian, American, or Cuban.

Darie must have coincided there with his fellow countryman Samuel Rosenstock, aka Tristan Tzara.
He must have coincided as well with fellow painter Wifredo Lam.
Was Darie more Romanian –and therefore more Tzara– or more Cuban –and, therefore, more Lam?
Cuba is both. The labyrinth. The Global South.

Soldevilla is also both. Yet she’s more colorful. More a strong woman.
But here, placed together, they’re complements.
The Global South.

A small cubicle. Cuba. Small canvases. Small oil-on-canvases.
Some drawings on paper. Minimal installations preceding minimalism.
Boxes in a corner. Are they installations as well?
We’re inside a small cubicle in a corner of a massive warehouse full of art.
The Global South.

It’s a small cubicle for such great painters, but it’s a small world, anyway.
At least they’re there, together, complementing each other.
There’s much movement for such a small space. A jump to hyperspace.
In a cubicle. A hypercube.

I remember Darie’s installations and frescoes at the Ameijeras Hospital in Havana.
They made me dream of becoming an astronaut –we called them “cosmonauts” then.
His mosaics in La Rampa kept my footprints so many times I couldn’t count them.
It was Havana’s version of Hollywood Boulevard.
Instead of stars, lines, stripes, structures. Constructs.

I remember Soldevilla’s canvases and prints from reproductions in my school books.
The shapes, the colors, the textures.
Space. Open space. Hyperspace.

There’s something of Brancusi in Darie, but less figurative. Something like “Brancusi meets Kandinsky.” But much more geometrical. Much more metaphysical.
Soldavilla is Darie in feminine. With a little of Rodchenko. More colorful. More energetic. More earthly.
Like a volcano. Like a birth. Like springtime earth.

Both are curious reinterpretations of suprematism. An evolution of geometric abstraction towards kinetism and beyond.
Tropical suprematism with Eastern European hints.
Very French.
But that used to be Cuba. A cube. A hypercube.
A bucket where everything was possible.
And both, Darie and Soldevilla, are masters of the impossible. Astronauts / cosmonauts of a bidimensional world of primary colors.

Both were way too big to fit in a small cubicle.

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