Fifteen watercolors, one for each of the 15 years the Cuban Five have suffered in prison, in an exposition entitled Yo me muero como viví, (I will die as I have lived) by Antonio Guerrero, inaugurated September 11, in Havana’s José Martí Memorial.
"YOU need to try do something from the inside, directed outward, instead of continuing to do pieces from the outside, directed inward." This is what my brother in struggle and art Arturo, photographer and visual art critic, insisted after having seen and photographed a large portion of my work.
I had to spend several weeks repeating his words to myself, letting them sink in, until one fine day, the images I sketched and then took to watercolor paper, where they acquired color, began to emerge. All of these images have something in common. They are memories of the unjust and cruel treatment we were given from the first day of our arrest, moments of our survival over 17 months, isolated in punishment cells called ‘the hole’ in the Miami Federal Detention Center.
Arriving at number 15, I decided to end the work with this quantity, coinciding with the number of years in captivity we will reach September 12, 2013.
Reproducing the environment in this area, gray tones predominate in each painting. They were basically created by mixing three primary colors, yellow, red and blue. The fragments of orange represent the prisoners’ suits we were all required to wear in that place, which therefore serves as a representation of us.
At first, my idea was to do these watercolors as studies, to subsequently create larger-format works with oils. Nevertheless, as I advanced, I noted that in their simplicity, there was beauty, and above all harmony.
As usual, once I started with the first sketch and the first watercolor, I didn’t stop until I had done all fifteen.
In the near future, we are planning to enrich this work with writings, poems and other visual artwork by the five of us, and thus reveal, with these memories, that first period of our imprisonment, which we could describe as the roughest and cruellest.
There, those of us who didn’t know them, learned the lyrics to Silvio’s emblematic song "El necio" and, everyday, with no communication from anyone, facing cruelty and brutal punishment, from inside, directed outward, we firmly asserted: "I will die as I have lived."
Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez
April 25, 2013
Marianna Federal Prison