Guillermo Portieles

I was born a Cuban ” Habanero in Marianao a suburb of Habana ”  from campesino parents in 1963. This was not very long after the Castro takeover of the island. My early childhood was typical of working-class Cubans of that era. But early on I discovered the pleasure of drawing — first, with crayons on scavenged paper, then with brushes and paints on paper, or wood, or anything I could find. By the time I was entering my teen years, my painting endeavors occupied me so much that I ceased playing with my peers.

Thanks to a recommendation from a neighbor, I was accepted there into an Arts program. Later, in 1986, I graduated from the San Alejandro School of Fine Arts with the equivalent of a B.A. — and also won permission to enroll for post-grad work in the Institute of Superior Arts in Havana. For the next few years I worked in teaching positions at Havana and attended school. But I still continued to develop my artistic vision.

By early 1989, I strayed from the accepted and safe arena of Cuban “Revolutionary Art.” Increasingly, my work depicted visions that simply could not be permitted. The charge against me was “Propaganda Politica” (political propaganda), a very serious crime at the time.

With help from my family, I went into exile in Panama. From there, I flew to the Dominican Republic where I obtained a teaching position at East Central University. I had relatives in both Tampa and Miami. In October of 1991, I landed in Miami.

In Tampa, working in the freedom America grants to all artists, my artistic career was reborn — a career that has already earned me acclaim, producing a body of work attracting discerning collectors around the world. And with no Secret Police to tell me what I can or cannot paint.

My plans for the future can be categorized into short and long term plans. Obviously, in the immediate future is creating more of these types of proposals as cognitive pieces. But more strategically, I would like to systematically work towards participation in biennials. The Cuenca and Sao Paulo Biennials are of great interest to me. It would afford me the opportunity to present my proposals in an international forum of contemporary art.

On a more long term basis, I’d like to expand my presence in important museums and private collections. I have been fortunate to be able to support myself through my art and intend on continuing to do so in the future.


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