Por: José Gomez Sicre
Editorial Munder, Miami 1987

 

Luis Vega was born in 1944, to Cuban parents, in the city of Havana, and it is there that he received his primary and secondary education. Enrolled as a lad in the Villate School of Art, at the age of fourteen he was already servicing as a graphic assistant in the preparation of advertising posters and billboards. While this work represented a welcome source of income, it obligated him to pursue his secondary schooling at night. He thus had little free time at his disposal. Nonetheless he lost no opportunity to improve his knowledge of art. Besides attending classes in painting and sculpture, he took courses in such related subjects as photography and ceramics, thereby broadening his field of creative vision.

From his earliest years Vega showed a special aptitude for drawing. He began with works similar to comic strips and from that advanced to graphics and film advertising, getting himself a job designing posters for movies at the Cuban Institute of the Art and Industry of Cinematography (ICAIC). His work was then influenced by two tendencies much in evidence in the early 1970’s, Op Art and Pop Art, which the artist today recognizes as having certain affinities to Surrealism.

The young man also felt a certain attraction to literature, and turned out occasional short stories and poems. Art in all its manifold manifestations continued as his main interest, however. In the movie field he worked at set-building, tried his hand at animated cartoons, and explored the intricacies of special effects. In the publishing area he practiced book illustration and received a number of commissions from a government printing agency for drawings and book jackets. All the while he regularly attended classes at the University of Havana and obtained a degree in art history in 1979.

By that time Vega was married and had two children. With thought of their future as well as his own, in 1980 he joined in the hurly-burly of refugees who sailed from Mariel to exile in the United States. Vega says that in the five years since he has been able to produce more than he had during the twenty years of his apprenticeship in Cuba. He now feels free to give full rein to his creative talent.

While the human figure is his central motif, he treats it freely, academic realism having been gradually replaced in his work by the distortion that is now habitual to his mode of expression. Graphite and ink are his preferred media. The power of his drawing and the monumental effect it produces have won Vega numerous distinctions. For two years running (1981 and 1982) he received the first prize for drawing from the Association of Art Critics and Commentators in Miami, the city in which he resides and works as an illustrator and layout artist.

His work has always been presented at group shows -in Miami, New York, and other cities of the United States. Compositions he did while in Cuba were included in exhibitions which were sent to Mexico City, Barcelona, Paris, and cities in Italy, Hungary, and Japan. In 1984 Vega was awarded a Cintas Fellowship.