Paul Sierra: A Cultural Corridor. -- Los Angeles: The Latino Museum History, Art and Culture, 1998.
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In this essay, Ricardo Pau-Llosa analyzes the paintings of Chicago-based, Cuban-American artist Paul Sierra within a framework of the convergence of nineteenth-century American landscape painting with what he calls the “theatricality” of Latin American “oneiric” painting. To him, Sierra’s paintings (featured in the 1998 exhibition Paul Sierra: A Cultural Corridor) depict theater and nature as drama at the precise moment in which man as “shaman or transcendent mystic” intrudes in nature. This is reflected through the use of two symbolic, alchemical, and opposite elements—fire and water—to address the conflictive nature of the encounter. In representing this form of theatricality, Pau-Llosa argues that Sierra’s paintings both resist the irony of Postmodernism and reveal what he calls Latin America’s “visual theater” without “exploiting the crass carnival of ethnic iconography.”
The Cuban-born, Miami-based poet Ricardo Pau-Llosa wrote this essay for the catalogue for Paul Sierra: A Cultural Corridor, an exhibition held at the Latino Museum of History, Art & Culture in Los Angeles, California, in 1998. Sierra was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to Chicago with his family in 1961, where he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and where he currently resides. He has exhibited his art extensively and his paintings are in the permanent collections of major museums of the USA, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Snite Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, among others. This document is significant because the author, writing at the end of the twentieth century, revives the debate about the characterization of Latin American art as “oneiric,” fantastic, and surreal.