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Fidelio Ponce
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Fidelio Ponce

Fidelio Ponce de León (24 January 1895 - February 1949). A native of Camaguey, he studied at the San Alejandro Academy in Havana from 1913 until 1918. Along with Antonio Gattorno, Victor Manuel, Amelia Pelaez and Wilfredo Lam, he is considered part of the "Vanguardia" movement in Cuban art; however, unlike many of his contemporaries he never studied in Europe, and so had comparatively little contact with European modernnism. Nevertheless, he listed among his influences Amadeo Modigliani, along with El Greco, Rembrandet, and Barttolome Esteban Murillo. His paintings are also reminiscent of those of Edvard Munch. Later in life Ponce de León contracted tuberculosis; he died in Havana in 1949. The Museum of Modern Art is among the museums containing examples of his work.

In 1937, his first exhibitions at the Lyceum, becomes a great success for him. His work “Las Beatas is awarded with a prize from El Salon Nacional, as well from El Salon de Arte Moderno. At this time his career is in a roll; traveled to New York and exhibited at the Delphis Studio. Again he received first prize for this work"Los Niños" from the Salon Nacional, and then disappeared until 1940.The Museum of Modern Art in New York obtain his work: “Mujeres” as part of its permanent collection.

Ponce which had a great personality, was a student of Romañach and his work was influenced by his academic procedures. Today his paintings are a disaster. Much of the colors are gone and the surfaces are cracked. He never took a great care with his work, neither knew how to, since never learned methods for preparing the oils adequately. He was obsessed with the white color, which he used to call "pintura nacarada" in order to project light color from it. He enjoyed Kandinsky's famous words: "...white is a great silence full of possibilities”.

Fidelio Ponce de León's style was one of the most singular styles and iconography of his generation. His paintings such as La Familia ("The Family") and Niños ("Children", 1938), reflect Cuban society of the 1930s, and offer a contrasting view to the idealized vision seen in the art of some of the other artists. They are tragic images about poverty, sickness, and alienation. Even when painting children in the midst of nature, as in Niños, a subject long associated with beauty and hope, his treatment of the landscape and the children's facial expressions suggest aridness and sadness. Ponce's desperate economic situation and unruly life matched the general socioeconomic situation of Cuba in the 1930s, and thus his paintings’ expressions of doom transcend the personal and may be said to symbolize the national mood of that time.

Fidelio Ponce
Fidelio Ponce

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