Pérez is an Artist-in-Residence with the Cuban Artists Fund and is showing work from his latest project, "Torn Canvass."
William Pérez Cuban Artists Foundation

William Pérez is an Artist-in-Residence with the Cuban Artists Fund and one of Cuba’s most influential contemporary artists. He is a illustrator, sculptor, and installation creator. He is known for making statements about the Cuban identity by using a variety of materials in different ways. William sees himself as an innovator who is always reinventing himself through his discovery of new techniques.

I recently visited William at his Union City studio to see his latest work and interview him for Startup Cuba.

Startup Cuba: How did you become an artist?

William: I was born in 1965 in the city of Cienfuegos located in the South center of Cuba. From a very young age I knew that art would be my life. I would say that I did not choose art, art chose me. I began my studies at the Elementary School of Art Rolando Escardo of the City of Cienfuegos from 1977-1981. I went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro in la Habana from 1981-1986. Since then I have developed my professional life showing my art in Cuba, Germany, Norway, Spain, Denmark, the United States, and other countries in hundreds of solo and collective exhibitions, art fairs, and other events. My works are in both private collections and art institutions.

Art is my psychiatrist.

William Pérez

Startup Cuba: Having grown up in Cuba who and what were your influences?

William: It is very difficult for me to establish what my influences were as an artist born in Cuba since my consciousness was global from a very young age. I have always looked around me, although I felt that the Italian Renaissance was something that strongly marked my career and my personality. My concept as an artist is constant renewal.

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Startup Cuba: Tell the readers about the Cuban Artists Fund. How did you become involved with it? William: The Cuban Artists Fund was established in 1998 to foster the vitality and spirit of Cuban artists. CAF raises global awareness and understanding of Cuba’s cultural achievements. It builds an international network of support and helps to create partnerships within the Cuban arts community. CAF plays a leadership role in promoting better understanding among American, Cuban, and Cuban diaspora artists, art professionals, academics, and communities around the world.

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My relationship with the Cuban Artists Fund began more than three years ago. I have received their support for different projects, and now I have the honor of receiving an Artist-in-Residence with CAF. I will be showing a selection of works from my latest project titled “Torn Canvass” project No. 1.

William Pérez Cuban Artists Foundation torn canvass

Startup Cuba: How long is your residency and what does it entail?

William: My residency will run from March 1st until March 25th 2022. Life is comprised of moments, and it is those moments that reach the highest degrees of emotion that endure in memory. Artists often build intrigue through their ability to create large works with a distinctive, personal stamp. This ceased to interest me a long time ago. As a result, I’ve found the most fortunate chaos of my career. Torn Canvass No 1 is my first work to live two lives. It dies and reincarnates itself, leaving behind the memory of what it was to multiply itself into 60 fragments that each have their own lives and destinies. Torn Canvass No 1 is a work that focuses on the event and makes the client the custodian of its existence: the opportunity to be custodians of the documentation of work from the beginning of its gestation until the moment of its transformation. It turns the client into an accomplice who participates in the transcendence of the work.

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William created an original red drawing on canvas (Torn Canvass No 1), which he later cut into 60 segments. This work transgresses itself and focuses its essential objective on the transformative action of creation.

Startup Cuba: What is art to you?

William: Art is my psychiatrist.

Startup Cuba: What is your dream?

William: Being able to work peacefully.

William Pérez Cuban Artists Foundation

Pérez was a founding member of “Grupo Punto” back in Cuba in 1995. This was an alternative group of six artists who created different installations and exhibits while traveling all around Cuba and Europe. This collaboration was formed as a strategy to gain a place in the Cuban art scene throughout the world. Throughout his career, William has had over fifteen personal exhibits and has participated in more than twenty collective exhibitions. He has won thirty prizes including national and provincial awards and acknowledgments.

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William and I will be co-hosting an Open Studio together on Friday March 18th from five to eight pm at Cuban Artists Foundation 208 East 51st street 2nd floor. Art collectors, interior designers, curators, advisors, and gallerists are welcome. The exhibition at the CAF studio will feature Torn Canvass No 1 fragments as well as works-in-progress for future renditions of his process. Please join us to view the very special and beautiful work of my friend and colleague

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Evan Elkowitz is a New York stylist and fixture in Cuba’s underground fashion and design scene. After many years as a stay-at-home mom, she began a career as a stylist. She ventured to Cuba for the first time in December 2017 and styled her first photoshoot in Havana. Since then she founded the first Fashion & Arts tour to Havana with the goal of collectivizing her knowledge in order to give an insider's look into the unexpected creative world of Cuban design. She also loves salsa and Cuban music in general!

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