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Los Carpinteros
Inventing the World / Inventar el mundo
La plaza : el agua : la casa

April 8 – July 15, 2005
USF Contemporary Art Museum

Los Carpinteros, Coco Solo, 2004. Color lithograph, 42” x 74 1/2”, Edition: 20.
Published by USF Graphicstudio.

Inventing the World / Inventar el mundo is the first mid-career survey of the work of Los Carpinteros, a collective of young Cuban artists who live and work in Havana, Cuba. The artists—Marco Castillo, Dagoberto Rodriguez, and until 2003 Alexandre Arrechea—began to work together as students in the early 1990s at Havana’s prestigious Superior Institute of Art (ISA) and have since emerged as important presences on the expanding global terrain of art.

Approximately 35 works, from Los Carpinteros’ body of drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and installations created since the mid 1990s, will be selected according to a three part taxonomy that corresponds to the idea of inventing the world, or designing basic needs for organized human life.

Exhibition Brochure | Checklist

Los Carpinteros, Panera / Breadbox, 2004. Maple wood sculpture. 3’ x 10’ x 5’.
Published by USF Graphicstudio. Photo: Will Lytch

La Plaza—architecture and accoutrements of the city vital for communal, public life; El Agua—works with water, the essence that flows between public and private; and La Casa—domestic objects that furnish the home for private life.

The selected works will introduce and facilitate an understanding of the conceptual framework and working methodology of Los Carpinteros. Their use of playful irony and poetic metaphor combines with superior craftsmanship to produce objects that redefine the boundaries between art and design.

Los Carpinteros, Ciudad transportable / Transportable City, 2000.
Installation View, 7th Havana Biennial. Aluminum and cloth, Variable dimensions.

Los Carpinteros challenge and juggle many of our basic assumptions about the nature of culture and recent thinking about globalization. They exploit their Cuban roots and explore the rhythm and structure of the city as they reinvent and recast features of the urban landscape of Havana. “It’s a global reflection... we use Havana to speak of global problems, that don’t necessarily have to do with Havana, but that people have all over the world. We really use Havana to speak of other things,” say the artists.

Corina Matamoros, in her essay “Inventing the World” from the Los Carpinteros catalog (USF, 2003), notes, “Ever faster, in recent years, Los Carpinteros invent new objects to populate the world.... (they are) constructing another world as paraphrase of the world. They are making shrewd commentary about our lives through the utensils, architecture, engineering and crafts that define and denote us.” Lilian Tone, in her essay “Placeless Place” from the Los Carpinteros catalog, quotes the artists: “Our work studies quotidian objects and their functions. Many of our pieces derive from the alteration or the exaggeration of the use of a piece of furniture or another element that we habitually use. We have discovered that, hidden in the functionality of things that man fabricates, lie many fissures that betray his thoughts and conduct.”

Los Carpinteros, Estuche / Jewelry Case, 2000.
Wood. 87" x 51" x 51".

In “Working Drawings” from the same catalog, Laura Hoptman writes that the artists, in their emphasis on the structure of objects and construction of associations between what the subject looks like and what it could be, create and rely upon metaphor. “This re-introduction of the metaphorical takes on a certain significance at this moment in international contemporary art, a moment when the hegemony of doctrinaire Duchampian anti-visuality is slowly giving way to a softer Duchampian-inflected appreciation for the quotidian object itself and the poetry it might inspire.”

The works will be borrowed from collections in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada including: the artists’ own collection; the artists’ gallery, Anthony Grant, Inc., New York City; and from USF Graphicstudio, where Los Carpinteros have been working since 2002 on a variety of print and sculpture multiple projects.

Los Carpinteros, Foso / Moat, 2003.
Watercolor and pencil on paper. 60” x 80”.

Los Carpinteros have shown extensively in Cuba, North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Selected solo exhibitions include Los Carpinteros, Anthony Grant, Inc., New York (2004); Fluido, 8th Havana Bienal, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana (2003); Novos Desenhos, Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo, Brazil (2003); Transportable City, Contemporary Art Museum of Hawaii, Honolulu (2002), PS1 Contemporary Art Center—New York (2001), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2001); Los Carpinteros, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco (2001); and Los Carpinteros, Ludwig Forum fur Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (1998). Selected group exhibitions include Stretch, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (2003); Rest in Space, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2003); Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); Shanghai Biennale (2002); the 25th Bienal de São Paulo (2002); Tranatlantico, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain; Contemporary Art from Cuba: Irony and Survival on the Utopian Island – Arizona State University, Tempe, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, and the USF Contemporary Art Museum (1999-2001); and the Johannesburg Biennale (1997).

Los Carpinteros, Sofa caliente / Hot Sofa, 2001.
Powder coated steel, 33” x 78” x 32”.

Los Carpinteros: Inventing the World is organized by and will premiere at the University of South Florida (USF) Contemporary Art Museum in April 2005 where it will be on view until July. The exhibition is available for travel to institutions throughout the United States through 2007. The curatorial team includes Margaret Miller, Director and Noel Smith, Curator from the USF Institute for Research in Art, and from Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts, Corina Matamoros Tuma. Included is the artists’ first major catalog, Los Carpinteros, published in 2003 by USF Institute for Research in Art, designed to accompany the exhibition.

For more information on Los Carpinteros, please visit their website at

For more information on Los Carpinteros' Graphicstudio editions visit their Graphicstudio Artist Page