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Loló Soldevilla

Pioneering Cuban artist Dolores "Loló" Soldevilla (1901- 1971) was one of the only women to be prominently associated with the development of geometric abstraction in Cuba and one of the key figures responsible for promoting its development from the 1950s onward. A passionate, largely self-taught artist whose career blossomed in the 1950s, she was a self-styled impresario and autodidact, a formidable artistic talent and an astute cultural promoter. Following earlier professional turns as a musician, political activist and party politician in Cuba, Loló was appointed the country’s cultural attaché to Europe in 1949. Residing in Paris, she began studyingin the ateliers of prominent European artists. Although she did not take up painting and sculpture until her late forties, she quickly gained command of her métier and by 1950 was exhibiting her work in Parisian galleries and Salons, transitioning from figuration to abstraction.

In the ensuing years, Soldevilla developed her groundbreaking Color Luz theory that opened pathways to her Reliefs Lumineux, unique constructions that incorporated light as a working element in abstract designs, which premiered in Paris at the 1955 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. After returning to Havana in 1956, Loló played an active role as an artist, curator and gallery owner. She organized the important exhibition Pintura de hoy: Vanguardia de la Escuela de Paris (Painting Today: The Avant-Garde of the School of Paris) at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Havana, which featured the work of forty-six leading Hard-Edge, Op and Kinetic artists, including Jean Arp, Sonia Delaunay and Jesús Rafael Soto, amongst others. This pivotal exhibition introduced Cuban audiences to international abstract art for the first time.

In October 1957, Soldevilla, along with fellow artist Pedro de Oraá, founded the Galería de Arte Color Luz, a venue instrumental in fostering the development of abstract art in Cuba and solidifying the presence of the concrete art movement on the island. The gallery served as the incubator for a group of artists who would name themselves “10 Pintores Concretos,” of which Loló was the sole female member, its most public face and strongest force. As Castro’s revolution began to transform Cuban culture, abstraction, though never explicitly censored, was deemed “obsolete” and “out of touch with the new society.” Although Loló’s activities around the visual arts diminished, she stayed active establishing a new association, Grupo Espacio, and continued to paint and exhibit her work until her death in 1971. 

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