Lisa Sette Gallery presents Reynier Leyva Novo’s exhibition, The Flowers of My Exile.
Reynier Leyva Novo, a prominent participant and documentarian of what has become known as the 27N movement – a demand among Cuba’s younger generation of artists for freedom of expression and identity – is also an internationally recognized conceptual artist whose elegant minimalist works expose the hidden machinations of power in Cuba and the USA. Novo has been represented by Lisa Sette Gallery since 2014 and his works are in the public collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Perez Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, and Bronx Museum; he was featured at the 2017 Venice Biennale and was recently awarded the Pommery Prize at the 2022 Armory Show. Opening this May, Lisa Sette Gallery will exhibit The Flowers of My Exile, a selection of new and recent projects that trace Novo’s journey as a dissident artist in Cuba to his current status as an artist in exile in the USA.
Humor and an irrepressible sense of imagination infuse each of Novo’s endeavors, even against the background of repression and exile. In Blank Check, a series of “miniperformances” documented on celluloid film, Novo acts out the ephemera of daydream in absurdist black and white tableaus, each with a simple text description: To walk backwards in front of a Cuba Libre! sign; To pee in the corner of the National Bank. Set throughout the city of Havana in the months directly prior to the pandemic, Blank Check’s images capture the artist’s fleeting associations and ideas as he navigates this city, but they also become a metaphor for operating as an artist within a circumscribed urban topography. Novo remarks: Society shapes many of our thoughts even unconsciously. We often discard ideas because they do not fit adequately into the social, political or moral life of our communities. This series of performances is about externalizing these fragments of thought designated as garbage in our minds. They are actions that see the light.
Describing his title work of the Lisa Sette Gallery exhibition, The Flowers of My Exile, the artist comments: The Flowers of My Exile is a series containing color photographs of wildflowers that I’ve found since I left Cuba on July 2, 2021. The collection includes the entire route of my trip, starting with Spain, then Mexico, and finally the United States. The series is a way of telling my journey of exile through the flowers of the road. Novo’s botanical chronicle of exile exemplifies the artist’s ability to distill the complex dynamics of personal experience and political pressure into eloquent metaphorical objects and processes.
Reynier Leyva Novo : The Flowers of My Exile
May 6 – September 30, 2023
Lisa Sette Gallery
210 E Catalina Dr.
Phoenix, AZ 85012