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January 2020

- Ché in Cuba -

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'Ché in Cuba', this is the motif I wanted to paint when my husband and I travelled to the Caribbean island in January 2019. During my first visit, 29 years earlier, Ché's stylised image was present everywhere – on oversized signs along roadsides and on house walls, for example. Was that still the case, I asked myself? I was determined I would find one – and that was to become my motif. But while the well-known Ché Guevara song 'Hasta siempre' was still played in the bars and his printed portrait was available on T-shirts, canvases and postcards in souvenir shops, Ché, whose name for me is inextricably linked to Cuba, seemed to have otherwise disappeared from public life.

And then there finally hung this transparent poster with his image in a small wooden hut on a state-owned tobacco plantation in Viñales. I finally painted it – while tourist groups were able to watch tobacco leaves being cut and turned into cigars at a table. Agricultural workers came by, looked over my shoulder, nodded approvingly: "Ah, El Comandante!" I was happy, because in the beginning everything went well. But then a stroke too long, an angle too narrow – and the men were now also shaking their heads slightly. No, that wasn't Ché. An energetic, courageous look, but the friendly spirit, which always seemed to break through even without the touch of a smile, was missing from his portrait. The next evening in a small, private guesthouse in Havana, I made another attempt to render Ché under the dim glow of a bedside lamp. This time, too, I didn't succeed, although it shouldn't have been so difficult to paint him from the photo I had taken of the flag in the hut. But here a distance too small, there a curve too far – in my new picture Ché seemed doubtful and hesitant; he lacked this expression of confidence and determination, which I and the whole world still associate with him today.

"I will not leave Cuba without Ché," I decided the next morning at the airport terminal, then I took my painting equipment out of my pocket and started my last attempt. I simply recited Ché's famous quote to myself: be realistic, try the impossible. "Yeah, that will do," said Klaus, "the face is an idea too long, but you can recognize it. Are we going to go to the gate now? We’ll hear ‘final boarding’ and our names very soon." – “No, not yet,” I replied decisively," I wanted to paint 'Ché in Cuba' and not on a white background." Although time was pressing, I painted him on a transparent poster and framed it with the colours I associate with this island: green like the plants, blue like the sky and the sea. Yellow like the spring suns. White as the clouds, the beach and the stormy surf. And rust red like the earth of Viñales.

 

> order magnetic bookmark motif  ' Ché in Cuba ´