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Irish Artist Supports Cuban Five Art Exhibition in London

Images: Antonio GuerreroBy Shelley Marsden
The Irish World

WHEN Beyond the Frame: Contemporary Cuban Art opens at Gallery 27 in London this month, visitors will find work by leading Dublin artist Robert Ballagh and other non-Cuban artists among the display.

As well as a major presentation and sale of Cuban art, Beyond the Frame brings together leading lights from the contemporary visual arts scene inCubawith other internationally recognised artists, united in a common cause.

The exhibition aims to increase awareness of the Miami Five, five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in theUSfor thirteen years, and raise funds for the campaign for justice.

As a patron of the Free the Miami 5 Campaign inIreland, Ballagh is familiar with the case. Selecting a work titled ‘That Little Tent of Blue’ (1989) to contribute, he told the Irish World:

“I chose this image for the Beyond the Frame project because of the parallels between the miscarriages of justice suffered by certain groups Irish people living in the UK in the 1970’s and the on-going injustice now being carried out against the five Cuban men known as the Miami Five, imprisoned in the US.

“The piece was originally done for the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas dedicated to the Birmingham Six and Guilford Four.”

The five men, Fernando González, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Gerardo Hernandez, were arrested in theUSin 1998 accused of ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’.

Although René González was recently released he has been forced to remain in theUSaway from his family to serve three years’ probation. The Five were unjustly convicted and sentenced to long prison terms, three of them for life.

Beyond the Frame will feature twenty six Cuban and twenty other artists. Central to the exhibition will be a display of artwork by two of the Five, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández, both of whom have taken up art while in prison.

Artist Ballagh is equally established as a designer, having designed some seventy stamps for the Irish Post Office and the final series of Irish banknotes before the introduction of the Euro.

His theatrical designs include Riverdance, Stephen Berkoff’s production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, and Beckett’s Endgame for the Gate Theatre. He also designed the setting for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Dublin 2003.

Beyond the Frame: Contemporary Cuban Art is open for viewing and sales at:

Gallery 27,Cork Street,LondonW1 – 23 to 28 April and at The Lighthouse,Glasgow- 7 to 13 May.

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