Geysell Capetillo Álvarez

Year and place of birth: 1973, Havana, Cuba Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Geysell Capetillo Álvarez is a sculptor and installation artist. She studied in Havana at the Escuela Vocaciónal de Arte Paulita Concepción (1984-87) and the Escuela Provincial de Arte San Alejandro (1987-91), where she also had her first solo exhibition. She then gained a degree in sculpture from the city’s Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), where she trained in the Faculty of Plastic Arts. In 1995, she participated with the Cuban artists’ collective ‘Los Carpinteros’ in ‘El Oficio del arte’, a group exhibition curated by Dannys Montes de Oca. All the members of the group had graduated from the ISA the previous year. Capetillo was awarded her PhD from the same institute twelve months later. During those years, Capetillo co-founded the Escuela de Artes Plásticas of Camagüey in Cuba, where she teaches. She also started working as a director in several of the centres belonging to Frente Obrero Escultor (The Sculptor’s Front) and as a teacher at the Guamá monumental sculpture studio in Havana.

In 1996, she exhibited sculptures under the title ‘Escala Humana’ at Havana’s Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales. Capetillo deepened her work in subsequent years at the Studio Arts College International (SACI) in Florence and the Art Academy in Saint-Etienne, France. In 2002, she exhibited three sculptures at Nina Menocal’s gallery in Mexico City, which was one of the driving forces behind the promotion of contemporary art from Latin America. She participated in the 26th São Paulo Biennial and the eighth Havana Biennial the following year. In Havana, she showed ‘Contención’ (Containment), an installation in which she suspended pipes from the ceiling that leaked water into a variety of receptacles below. With this work, she addressed the lack of water distribution in her native country. She presented editions of colour photographs of lamps embedded in Coke bottles and detergent containers under the title ‘Albor’ (Morning Glow) in 2005. In 2007, Capetillo earned an honourable mention in the ‘three-dimensional forms’ category at the eighth Monterrey Biennale in Mexico with the sculpture ‘Vertebrado’ (Vertebrate), a column of black, stacked rims edged with neon light. The integration of light sources or armatures is a common denominator in many of her sculptures.

In a rare testimonial made from Cuba, a country that is relatively isolated in terms of contemporary art, Capetillo explained her work thus: “Having inherited strict sculptural directions, such as minimal art and land art, and the new British sculpture (including Richard Deacon, amongst others), my work and research precludes any intimate or contextual analysis. It is – both conceptually and formally – about a body of work with an impersonal character, from which there is nothing to learn about the life or personal history of its maker.”

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