Fernando Luis (1931-1983)
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Born in Havana, Fernando Luis initially studied architecture at the University of Havana. Although he never finished, Luis picked up on another subject, one that was always important in his life—art. Luis never had formal training, and is perhaps one of the best self-taught artists that Cuba had to offer.
For a short time, Luis taught painting in Cuba, but eventually left with his family for Spain. There, he found more artistic inspiration and the colors in his painting changed dramatically. In Spain, he was also able to have more access to works from painters he admired, like Goya and Picasso. This newfound inspiration in Spain led Luis to work around the clock, leaving a vast catalog of works behind. Luis eventually moved to Miami, which helped him to rekindle his Caribbean color palate.
Luis’s most popular works were his “Intriguer” and “Informer” series. These series were meant to be reflections of human life, and are often disturbing. Much like his contemporary Antonia Eiriz, Luis would paint sometimes horrific scenes. However, Luis would used highly geometrical shapes and bold, fauvist colors to show his perception of reality. Through these pieces, Luis painted the irony of life’s struggles in a way that was all his own. In a way, Luis’s color palate and subjects are similar to that of Fauve painter Franz Marc.
In fact, it is Luis’s “Intriguer” and “Informer” series that surround this artist with mystery. According to his wife and daughter, there are a number of lost works in this series. Whether they are sketches or oil paintings is unknown, but they would be unmistakable. Luis’s style was very distinct, and a lost painting from this series would not be difficult to identify. Luis was also reportedly working on another painting called “The Spy of the House of Love” which was meant to be exhibited in Spain. The whereabouts of this painting are unknown.
How many more paintings by this great Cuban master are hiding away somewhere? Europe, the United States and Cuba could all be considered hunting grounds for these lost treasures.
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