Pequeño teatro
signed and dated 'Fabelo, 1998' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'Fabelo, Pequeño teatro, 1998' (on the verso)
watercolor on paper
2178 x 30 in. (55.6 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 1998.
Virginia Miller Gallery, Miami.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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. 102-103 (illustrated, p. 103).
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Lot Essay

A graduate of Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte, Fabelo emerged at the forefront of the generation of the 1980s with works that brought Symbolist and absurdist aesthetics to a menagerie of hybrid figures. Awarded the first prize for drawing at the inaugural Havana Biennial in 1984, he became the youngest ever recipient of Cuba’s Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas in 2004. A virtuoso draftsman, Fabelo has looked to the Spanish School—Goya and Velázquez, in particular—as well as to Surrealism and magical realism to conjure the strange and often grotesque characters that inhabit his drawings and paintings. He began to explore watercolor in 1988 and has since achieved marvelous technical effects in works like the present Pequeño teatro.
Fabelo describes a motley and outlandish mise-en-scène in Pequeño teatro: a winged and corseted woman, curlers in her hair, faces a row of animate and inanimate forms—birds and bird-headed man, dog and fruit, cherub and chef’s knife—who wait backstage. Their disproportionate (and upside-down) figures and characteristically expressive faces convey the preposterousness of their situation. “I believe strongly that it is in people’s faces, in their heads, that you can really see a good part of the struggles in their lives, the mystery and pleasures of people, their most hidden droughts,” Fabelo once remarked. “The head is a visual spectacle of what is happening right in front of you, indeed, in front of your own head” (in J. Kirk, Culture and the Cuban Revolution: Conversations in Havana, Gainesville, 2001, p. 138).
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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