Cuba, My Revolution Exhibition: The Making of the Graphic Novel and Related Drawings


From the press release:

From Saturday, October 2 to December 13, 2010, Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn will premier the 1960′s drawings made in Cuba by Inverna Lockpez and examine the artmaking process and history behind a much heralded graphic novel published today by DC Comics.

The exhibition, entitled Cuba, My Revolution: The Making of the Graphic Novel and Related Drawings, assembles original sketches and revisions by the noted Brooklyn based artist Dean Haspiel, as well as correspondences, and pages from CUBA: My Revolution. Six drawings by Inverna Lockpez, whose life story inspired the new graphic novel are of both historic and artistic importance. These drawings were confiscated decades ago by Castro’s government and only recovered via a circuitous and secret network of diplomatic and art world contacts.

Shown for the first time at the Kentler, these drawings are a forceful reminder that Lockpez lost her freedom and very nearly lost her life in pursuit of her artistry. This exhibition is a testament to her ability to transcend violence through art.

Kentler will present an Artists’ Talk between Haspiel and Lockpez, moderated by the New York-based critic Calvin Reid, on opening day, Saturday, October 2, at 4 pm, followed by a reception from 5 to 7 pm. An essay by Reid accompanies the exhibition.

“This exhibition not only provides the viewer with a glimpse into the process behind the graphic novel, but also offers a chance to contemplate the comic page as an original artwork. While the pages of a comic book are not necessarily intended to be seen as stand-alone gallery works, the care, craft and formal invention of creating them bring to bear all the expertise associated with the gallery artist,” says Reid.

“At Kentler, we have always been most interested in the way in which artists use drawing to examine the cultural history of their communities,” says Florence Neal, director and co-founder of the non-profit organization. “This exhibition is a perfect example of the power of drawing to reach wide audiences,” adds Neal.

Perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed graphic biography of Harvey Pekar, Haspiel here tells the life story of a young woman who believed in Castro’s revolution during its early years, but who was later falsely accused of collaborating with the enemy, imprisoned, and tortured. Haspiel captures a sense of the daily life in Cuba during the days when the horrors of the Bastista regime gave way to Castro’s brutal repression. Haspiel’s deft depictions of this period were informed by his long friendship with Lockpez , and access to a trove of photographs and other source materials from the Cuba of the 1950s.

The inclusion of Lockpez’s drawings in the exhibition are a fascinating coda to the raw experience of the fictionalized memoir. “Lockpez’s small, intricate drawings are emblematic of certain works by the great Russian abstractionists Kandinsky and Malevich-an ironic reflection, perhaps, of the overbearing role Russians would play in her life in Cuba. And, strangely enough, some of Lockpez’s abstractions even suggest the panels of a comic book,” says Calvin Reid in his essay.

Exhibition curator, Mariella Bisson says “This exhibition is also a rare opportunity to see original drawings by Haspiel. It is fascinating to see some ideas pursued, then dropped, or changed in inventive ways. In these raw, immediate sketches, the viewer can feel the artist exploring, and making decisions in order to communicate more clearly and concisely.”

General Information

Kentler International Drawing Space was founded in 1990 by two artists in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Kentler is a non-profit space dedicated to the promotion and presentation of experimental and innovative contemporary drawing and work on paper by emerging and under-recognized local, national and international artists. Kentler encourages dialogue and interaction between exhibiting artists and the public while providing artists with the opportunity to experiment, explore and expand the definition of art in society.

Kentler International Drawing Space is located at 353 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The gallery is open to the public Thursday to Sunday, 12- 5 PM, during the exhibition period. Admission is free. For more information the public can call 718-875-2098 or visit the website at

Kentler’s Programs: Exhibitions and events; The Kentler Flatfiles; K.I.D.S. Art Education.

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