Humberto Calzada

El Observatorio - The Observatory, 1986

HUMBERTO CALZADA. A name of increasing prestige among Cuban painters in exile is that of Humberto Calzada. He was born in 1944 in the city of Havana and it was there that he began his education. Abandoning the island with his family in 19 60, he completed high school in Miami, after which he went on to obtain a degree in industrial engineering at the local university in 1966. Two more years of study at the same institution provided him with a graduate degree in finance. For seven years C alzada engaged in the practice of engineering, all the while trying his hand at painting on a self-taught basis. In 1975 he decided to become a full-time artist. Calzada has refused to associate himself with the baroque tendency which has so long been do minant in Cuban art. Not for him are the tile roofs, the ironwork, the finials atop facades, the massive door knockers, the high-backed wicker rockers, and the gardens bursting with blooms that have been favored motifs for four decades and more. Calzada's preference is for interiors and exteriors bathed in an even lighting that imparts an impression of classic stability and calm. At one point he was visibly influenced by his compatriot Emilio Sanchez, who delighted in the ornamental fantasies of art deco houses the whiteness of which was heightened by brilliant sunlight. While he continues to resort to the lighting effects characteristic of the older artist, Calzada has evolved toward a less documentary type of painting, abandoning everyday reality for sc enes of his own invention, suggestive of the dream world, and imbued with an atmosphere of purest poetry. The combination of imagination and masterly technique has resulted in compositions whose significance is ever more widely recognized.

Calzada's career has been marked by unbroken success. In the years from 1975 to 1984 he had nine one-man shows, in cities ranging from Miami, Savannah, and Washington, D C., to the capitals of Panama, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. In addi tion, he has taken part in a dozen group exhibitions presented in cities of the continental United States and the Puerto Rican Commonwealth. His work was shown at the 1981 Biennial in Medellin, Colombia, and examples of it can be found in the collections of twenty-three museums and other public institutions, chiefly in the United States, and more particularly in Florida.