Glenda León

Artist selected by Estévez, Ruth at 2011

Seeing is something utterly spiritual
Albert Hofmann


I believe in art that acts as a reminder of a state of harmony, a state of complete listening that humans have gradually lost… art as a kind of call to open our eyes as we walk through the world and which elevates us spiritually or mentally.


I’m interested in the gaps between visible and invisible, between sound and silence, between similar and different, between ephemeral and eternal. Like magic, art is an act of transformation, which can sometimes simply be a coincidence, revealing the imperceptible. Far from a need, for me art is a luxury, since ideas come from a state of silence and full attention. It’s not an outlet for frustrations or problems, but the result of elevating it to a higher plane.


1. What made you choose art as a profession?
It wasn’t exactly a carefully thought-out choice at the start. I got into the professional art world by experimenting, as an extension and mixture of what I was doing at the time. I was also a dancer and an art critic, so I had to choose between these three professions and I plumped for the plastic arts because, in contrast to the performing arts, it let me express an idea spontaneously, even if it was actually created later, instead of representing a feeling in front of an audience. And I wasn’t going to make a penny as an art critic since there were fewer and fewer pieces that actually inspired me to write something.


2. How would you define your work?
My work is almost always minimal. At times I’ve been classified as a lyrical conceptual artist, which I think comes quite close to the mark. My work explores human beings’ essential aspects and brings together disparate ideas - the meaning of the piece comes from this combination.


3. What subjects are you interested in?
I’m interested in linking humans to their environment, especially their closest environment, their body and nature, and looking at the mark they leave on certain objects. Humans are split beings and they need to approach reality in different ways to make themselves more flexible and open. They’re separated from themselves, from their centre.


4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
I’ve used almost as many resources as I’ve made pieces… video, drawing, installations, sound, photography, etc.


5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
I’m not interested in complaining, in hurling frustrations and problems onto a piece, because I respect art and people who come to see art. I want to give spectators something better, something that comes naturally from my relationship with reality, only passed through a reflective filter that elevates these matters to a level where they offer something new, rather than merely “staging drama”. Politics doesn’t move me, so I don't think it’s a worthy subject for a work of art. That doesn’t mean that some pieces aren’t based on situations created specifically by politics, but I don’t need spectators to know that or relate to it.


Everything I observe, breathe, dream, hear, taste and touch are my raw materials, because each and every circumstance can be linked to another.


6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
To be elevated.


7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I hope that when they walk out of the exhibition space and go back to their everyday lives, they can see something different and feel things in a different way. I think any audience that’s AWARE is able to do this.


8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I went to fine art school at the age when people begin studying art in Cuba, when I was twelve. Then I studied classical ballet for almost ten years, graduated in art history at the University of Havana, and took a master’s in new media at the University of New Media in Cologne, Germany. All of these experiences have influenced my work in one way or another. It’s all been important.


9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
I think I’m in a fortunate situation. I can make a living from my art, thanks to the three galleries that represent me, and I’ve taken part in exhibitions in places like the Brooklyn Museum in New York with artists like Mona Hatoum and Bill Viola.


In the future, I hope to show my work to far more people, because they’re the ones I do art for. And, in turn, if my work achieves its objective, more people will have a more flexible way of looking at the world.


10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work? Do you think this has a bearing on your work?
Answered in question 9.

11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators? What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships?
Almost all the curators I’ve known lack that spark of curiosity that’s key in this profession. Some are only interested when another curator recommends you; others aren’t really interested even then. Personally, when I meet an artist, the first thing I ask myself is what their work will be like and how they see it. Most curators now don’t even do this. They’re not fired up by art. There’s a reason why there’s so much bad art in museums, art institutions and galleries, and it’s not just a question of taste.


12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
The arts scene is Madrid is like its inhabitants: open, warm, spontaneous, all positive things that set it apart from other scenes I’m familiar with, such as in Germany. I haven’t got anything negative to say yet.

Curriculum vitae

Glenda León
La Habana, 1976
Vive y trabaja entre / Lives and works between: Madrid, La Habana


Formación Académica / Education
Master en Arte de los Nuevos Medios, Academia Superior de Arte y Nuevos Medios de Colonia, Köln.


Licenciatura en Historia del Arte, Facultad de Artes y Letras Universidad de la Habana.


Ballet Clásico en Centro Prodanza de Cuba.


Escuela Elemental de Artes Plásticas 20 de octubre, La Habana.


Exposiciones Individuales (Selección) / Selected Solo Exhibitions
Escuchando el Silencio, galleria MagnanMetz projects, New York.


Delirios, Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris.
Un ruido azul, Galería Habana, La Habana; Pierre François-Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal.


El vuelo de la Razón, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, La Habana.


Mar Interno
, Le Plateau Espace expérimental, Paris.


El ir y venir de la Permanencia (Inner Sea), Optica Gallery, Montreal.


El vuelo de la Razón, Galerie m:a contemporary, Berlin.


Realidades mágicas, Galería 23 y 12, La Habana.


Las formas del instante, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, La Habana.


Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección) / Selected Group Exhibitions
Entre Trópicos 46° 5’: Cuba,  CAIXA Cultural Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.


Imagecity, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.


La terre est bleue comme une orange, Musée des Beaux‐Arts de Montreal.
Impressionism and Video Art : the echo of light, Normandy Impressionist Festival, Rouen, France.
Polaridad Complementaria: recent works from Cuba, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans.


El Patio de mi casa. Arte Contemporáneo en los Patios de Córdoba, Córdoba, España.
Revolution of the Ordinary. The order of Things. Museo Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Deutschland.
X Bienal de La Habana, complejo Morro-Cabaña, Cuba.
Americas Latinas. Las fatigas del querer, Spazio Oberdan, Milano.
Separating the myth from the reality-status of women, Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal.


Lança Cuba, Galería A Gentil Carioca, Río de Janeiro, Brasil.


Paysages Divers, Centre d'Art Contemporain Villa du Parc, Annemasse, Haute-Savoie, France.
Infinite Island, Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Killing Time, Exit Art, New York.
PINK, The Art Gallery of Calgary, Canada.


Waiting List, City Art Museum Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Noche de Video Arte, KHM/Museum Ludwig, Köln.
Flight, Glimorehill G12 Theater, Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art, Glasgow.


Videografías invisbles, Museo Patio Herreriano, Valladolid.
CUADRILATERO, Centro Michon Arte Contemporanea, Livorno.
II Bienal de Jafre, Girona.
IRREDUCIBLE: Contemporary Short Form Video, 1995-2005. CCA Wattis Institute, San Fco/ Miami Art Central, Miami/ Bronx Museum, NYC.


Cuba: instalaciones nuevas, artistas en residencia, The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh.
Island Nations, Rhode Island School of Design Museum.


VIII Bienal de La Habana, La Cabaña, La Habana.
56 Locarno International Film Festival, Italia.


Breaking Barriers, The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, Tallahassee, Florida.
II Western Australian International Artists Workshop, Walpole/ Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.


VII Bienal de La Habana, Morro, La Habana.
Novena Muestra Internacional de Performance, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, México D.F.


Becas y Premios (Selección) / Awards and Grants (Selection)
Beca MAEC de investigación, Madrid.


Artista en Residencia en Fonderie Darling, Montreal.


Artista en Residencia en Couvent des Recollets, Paris.


Beca DAAD para estudiantes de Arte, 2006-2007, Deutschland.


Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, New York.


Premio UNESCO para las Artes, VII Bienal de La Habana, Cuba (2000) [junto al Grupo Galería DUPP].


Publicaciones / Writings
"La Condition de la Performance", Éditions Nota Bene, Montréal, Canada, 2010.
"St. James Guide to Hispanic Artists: Profiles of Latino and Latin American Artist", St. James Press, 2002.
"La Condición performática (The Performatic Condition)", edited by Editorial Letras Cubanas, La Habana, 2001.
"Como lágrimas en la lluvia", Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana Magazine, # 16-17, Madrid, 2000.


Bibliografía / Bibliography
Pohl, John, "Some sound ideas about artistic concepts", The Gazette, Montreal, 24/XII/2010.
Climent, Éric, "Glenda León: voir la musique, entendre les images", La Presse, Montreal, 12/XII/2010.
"La musique objet, Jérôme Delgado", Le Devoir, Montreal, 18/XII/2010.
"IRREDUCIBLE: Contemporary Short Form Videos", CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, 2005.
Rattemeyer, Christian, "Bienal de Habana", Artforum, II/2004.
León, Glenda/Espinosa, Magali, Bomb Magazine, New York, 2002-2003.
León, Glenda/Blanco,Caridad, Art Nexus, # 49, Bogotá, 2003.