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Culturekiosque Staff Report

TORONTO, 31 JULY 2007— In collaboration with Harbourfront Centre's Island Soul, a Caribbean culture festival (3 - 6 August), Toronto's Spence Gallery presents The Way of the Saints: African Symbolism in Cuban Art . On view for only three days, the exhibition is devoted to four Cuban artists who explore how African spirituality has manifested itself and survived in contemporary Latin culture through the practice of Santería.

Santería is a religion combining traditional West African Yoruba beliefs with aspects of Iberian Catholicism. During the days of slavery in Cuba, slaves were prohibited from practicing their native religions. In order to maintain their faith, they secretly superimposed Catholic saints and personages on their own spiritual figures (called Orishas). Thus, it looked like they were praying to a saint or to the Virgin Mary, but they were also invoking one of their Orishas. In time, both belief systems merged. Not only was Santeria instrumental in slave liberation movements, but it also greatly influenced music, literature and other cultural manifestations throughout Latin America. Today, Santeria is practiced wherever its devotees migrate and is still comprised  of a complex mythology, a pantheon of hundreds of deities (orishas) and  a system of symbols, signs and ceremonies.  The exhibition on view in Toronto features more than 20 mixed media works whose content and aesthetic draw on the symbols, mythologies and practices of Santeria.

Participating artists include:
Elio Vilva Trujillo lives and works in Trinidad, Cuba. He has done
extensive research on African religious iconography in Cuba. His art
explores the colourful imagery and rich symbolism of Santeria traditions. His paintings present some of the most significant Orishas. He works with mixed media on paper and acrylic on canvas and has been shown in Cuba, Italy, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Belgium and the U.S. Artist info and works displayed at: 

Francisco Gordillo Arredondo is a graduate of Cuba's leading art school- the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. He will present about five acrylic on paper pieces in this exhibit. It is said that his main contribution to Cuban art is in linking very specific esoteric knowledge to personal experience in arresting visual statements. Artist info and works displayed at

Francisco Gordillo Arredondo, untitled  
Photo courtesy of Harbourfront Centre

Lino Felix Vizcaino Sarria is a self-taught artist who has exhibited
extensively in Cuba and has also been in group shows in Spain, the U.S. and Mexico. Five of Felix's lino prints will be in the exhibit. Artist info and works displayed at and

Lino Felix Vizcaino Sarria
Photo courtesy of Harbourfront Centre

Javier Gonzalez Gallosa is a self-taught artist exhibiting since 2000.
He has had several solo shows in his home town of Cienfuegos and has
been part of group shows in Spain, France and the U.S. In 2003, his work was featured in the exhibition Orishas at the Centre for Cuban Studies in New York. Five of Gallosa's painting in this theme will be presented. Artist info and works displayed at

Javier Gonzalez Gallosa (Cienfuegos, Cuba): Mujer con Pez
Acrylic on canvas
(25" x 25"), 2003
Photo courtesy of Indigo Arts Gallery, Philadelphia

The Way of the Saints: African Symbolism in Cuban Art
3 - 6 August 2007
Spence Gallery
588 Markham Street
Toronto, Ontario
(1) 416 795 27 87

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