El Rapto de las Mulatas
Carlos Enriquez Gomez. Born in Zulueta,(Villa Clara) Cuba 1900. Died Havana, (Finca Huron Azul) 1957.
Carlos Enriquez formal artistic training was scant, yet he had a college education and was an avid reader. In 1918-19 he took painting classes while in high school at the Escolapios in Guanabacoa and in 1924, after graduating from business school in Philadelphia, he briefly attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He returned to Cuba in 1925 with the painter Alice Neel, whom he married that year. In Havana, Carlos Enriquez worked at the Independent Coal Company, drew and painted in his spared time, and participated in the earliest manifestations of modernism in Cuban painting. Conscious of the need to expand his artistic knowledge and potential, he left Havana for the United States and then Europe.
Carlos Enriquez lived in New York from 1927 to 1930 and in Paris and Madrid from 1930 to 1933. Among the most important experiences of those formative years were his visits to the Metropolitan, Prado, and Louvre museums, his endless conversations with artists and intellectuals of many nationalities at the cafe Le Dome in Paris, and his contact with surrealism. Given the evidence of his work, he was attracted to the surrealism of Federico Garcia Lorca, early Salvador Dali, and late Francis Picabia as far as their use of superimposed images and erotic subject matter is concerned.
Carlos Enriquez returned to Cuba in 1934 and, like the case of the other vanguardia artists, the rencounter with his native land provided the catalyst for his mature style and his commitment to express Cuban realities and myths. Using a personal visual language of fluid lines, overlapping color forms, and dynamic figure compositions, he represented the Cuban countryside, its inhabitants, and folklore. Poor peasants, heroic legendary and historical figures, sensual women, restless horses, and windy landscapes of palm trees and rolling hills are the main characters and setting for "creole ballads" of confrontation, eroticism, and conflict. The subjects were often inspired by popular myths and social realities. He also painted portraits of friends, many nudes, and some still lifes. Although basically a painter, Carlos Enriquez was an estimable writer. He published essays and letters on his art as well as three novels: Tilin Garcia (I939), La vuelta del Chencho (written 1942, published 1960), and La feria de Guaicanama (written 1942, published 1960).
His paintings and drawings are in the collections of the National Museum of Cuba, El Huron Azul (his home turned museum in the outskirts of Havana), the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cuban Foundation Museum in Daytona Beach, and the Cuban Museum of Art and Culture in Miami. The latter institution organized a major exhibition of his work in 1986. His paintings and drawings are also in private collections in Cuba, Latin America, the United States, and Europe.