If I were searching for what defines the exhibition as essentially Cuban, I would locate it within this interaction between the natural landscape (lush, tropical, and reminiscent of beach scenes countless US office workers place on their desktops) and Cuba’s unique political history. But it would be difficult to find a more generic formula for summing up any country’s art: what art does not reflect its landscape and political history?


The colors are the first thing you'll probably notice. Red pervades many of the works and it's usually juxtaposed with darker monotones. It could signify a variety of meanings but most of them point to red as a symbol of passion (not the romantic kind), violence and even power.


Relationship status: It’s complicated.

That applies both to the bond between Cuba and America and to the tumultuous relations between Fidel Castro and his people. The hurdles don’t end even with Castro's recent death, which may lead to more struggles and an unforeseeable future for the island. Through it all, artists have continued to create; Complicated Beauty, the Tampa Museum of Art’s first survey of contemporary Cuban art, is a small but satisfying overview of works created in the past four decades.

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