Surrealism and the Cuban Revolution: Roberto Matta’s Works in 1960s Cuba
In 1963, Matta visited Havana, invited by Casa de las Américas, one of the cultural organizations created after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) that has been instrumental in fostering exchanges between Cuban and international writers, artists, and intellectuals through a varied program of artistic events, and, the publication of its literary magazine. During this stay on the island, Matta worked on the mural Cuba es la Capital (Cuba Is the Capital, 1963), using soil from Casa de las Américas’s surroundings and other materials found in situ. In the following years, Matta returned to Cuba and participated in exhibitions and initiatives, such as the 1968 Cultural Congress of Havana, organized in line with the new cultural policy of the revolutionary government. At this event Matta delivered a speech known as “The Internal Guerrilla” (La Guerrilla Interior). Surrealists from the Paris Group also participated in events in Havana and responded to the Cuban revolutionary process in their journals. In light of the Surrealists’s engagement with Cuba in the 1960s, this article examines two works that shed light on Matta’s approach to post-revolutionary Cuba: the 1963 mural Cuba es la Capital and the 1968 speech “The Internal Guerrilla,” which synthesizes Matta’s ideas on art and revolution.