Luis Eliades Rodríguez Martínez (Eliades)

10The orishas, or gods and goddesses of the Yoruba, are prominent in Luis Eliades Rodríguez Martínez’ work. He paints Eleggua, the trickster who opens doors; Osain, wizard of healing magic and herbs; Changó, the fierce god of masculinity and lightning.

But also incorporated into Eliades’ paintings are polymitas, the colorful Cuban land snails plucked into near-extinction by children seeking to string their shells into necklaces for tourists. “We’ve done a lot of work to save the polymita from extinction,” Eliades said.

Born in Baracoa in 1941, he is considered the grandfather of local art; a principal member of the Tibaracón Group, and was honored by the city on its 500th year anniversary with its coat of arms for his life achievement in art.

He is on the consulting board of the Eliseo Osorio Gallery in Baracoa, and judges many local and regional shows. His expositions include Latin Views, 2008, at the University of Connecticut, the Salón de Exposiciones AGISA, Switzerland, and The Binding of Two Cultures in St. Augustine, Florida.

His son, Noa, is an internationally recognized artist living in Havana, but Eliades keeps his quiet home studio in Baracoa.

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