Rafter: The Little House 2
signed 'AZACETA 94' (lower right); signed and dated 'LUIS CRUZ AZACETA, Nov. 1994' (on the reverse)
acrylic gesso, polaroids and shellac on canvas
5812 x 8018 in. (148.6 x 203.5 cm.)
Painted in 1994.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
L. Bertot, La imaginación literaria de la generación del Mariel, Cuba, Fondo de Estudios Cubanos, 2000 (illustrated on the front and back covers).
Scottsdale, Arizona, Lisa Sette Gallery, Luis Cruz Azaceta: Fragile Crossing, January 1995.
Gainesville, Florida, Harn Museum of Art; Sarasota, Florida, John & Marble Ringling Museum of art; Eugene, Oregon, Jordan Schnitzer Museum; Manitoba, Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery; Coral Gables, Florida, Lowe Art Museum; Katonah, New York, Katonah Museum of Art, Cuba Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, May 2007- September 2010, pp. 85-86 (illustrated, p. 85).
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Lot Essay

“I live in the Diaspora,” Cruz Azaceta once reflected. “My home (my culture) I carry with me. I am in perpetual movement. An infinite voyage. Neither here nor there. Floating on a raft, carrying my freedom, dreams and desires” (in A. Anreus, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Los Angeles, 2014, p. 67). Born in Havana, Cruz Azaceta left Cuba in 1960 and eventually settled in New York. The city served as a foil for the searing Neo-Expressionist paintings that soon emerged, addressing themes both universal—isolation, oppression, injustice—and immediate, from the AIDS epidemic to the balsero crisis. Approximately 63,000 Cuban balseros (rafters) landed in the United States between 1959 and 1994, typically in improvised vessels and without government permission. Cruz Azaceta was among the first Cuban American artists to portray the balseros, as early as 1967, and they resurfaced in his work beginning in the mid-1980s.
Balsero: La Casita 2 depicts a lone and disconsolate rafter—a self-portrait of the artist as “everyman”—in a small boat, holding a miniature “casita” in one hand, symbol of an elusive home. Two Polaroid photographs depict the sustenance—tantalizing cornucopias of food—that he desperately seeks. “The rafter becomes an icon that represents the theme of exile, with its perpetual flight and displacement,” Alejandro Anreus explains. “Cruz Azaceta’s balseros are a part of the concrete historical reality of post-1959 Cuba…[he] creates with his balseros a sequence of images charged with a somber anguish—of those struggling to escape, to survive, to get to the other side” (op. cit., p. 65, 69-70).
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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