Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso
This Cuban artist has no other means of expression than that of her creation. The walls of her home, where she lives with her mother, are covered with drawings of bodybuilders, brown tape scattered along the outlines. A true community of men, women, hermaphrodites and wildlife, Misleidys has built her sociality through her work. Discovered by the gallery in 2014, she has been featured in more than 10 international exhibitions since 2018, including New Images of Man in Los Angeles, Flying High in Vienna, and Independent in New York. Acclaimed by Matthew Higgs and Karen Wong (New Museum, NYC), the artist has been the subject of recent reviews in the New York Times and Art in America.
Misleidys was born in 1985, not far from Havana, with a severe hearing impairment. Her father left home when she was still a very young child. The young girl showed signs of developmental difficulties, so her mother placed her in a specialized facility at the age of five. But as the symptoms of autism became more pronounced, she had to leave, returning home where she lived in isolation with the exception of the link she maintained to her mother and younger brother. Even at a young age, Misleidys was particularly drawn to crayons and watercolor paints that she used for her own amusement.
One day, Misleidys began to paint silhouettes of bodybuilders with marked facial features and protruding muscles. Over time, the figures increased in size, eventually becoming larger than life. After painting the figures, she would cut them out and affix them to the walls of her bedroom with pieces of brown Scotch tape and, in time, the other rooms of the house. Soon thereafter, the young woman also began to paint wildlife, devils, and animals, often insisting on representing their innards with painted cross-sections of their anatomy. Her inability to speak or express her ideas on the substance of her work ensures that her paintings, which possess a strong visual presence, remain absolutely enigmatic.
Those close to her claim that Misleidys has an exceptional capacity for clairvoyance, inherited from her mother, and that it is not rare to catch her in “conversation” with her works using hand gestures—a sign that these works are the bearers of some power which goes beyond the mere fascination that they exert on the beholder.
Karen Wong, deputy director at the New Museum (New York), on the topic of Misleidys Castillo Pedroso’s works, raises the question of gender as well as their formal similarities with the works of Francisco Clemente. But rather than telling us about Misleidys’ real intentions, this analysis primarily brings forth the issue of reception, central to the discussion of art brut.
Preface : Karen Wong
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Misleidys Castillo Pedroso : fuerza cubana #2, from September 8th to October 6th, 2018.