Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso
The family is unsure of the exact date, but a few years ago, Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso began painting muscular male figures, in various states of undress, on construction paper. After cutting the figures out, she would install them methodically all over the apartment, using precisely cut pieces of packing tape, spaced evenly around the figures’ edge. Some of the men were a few inches tall while others approached eight feet, stretching from floor to ceiling. Then came the body parts—severed hands, feet, and heads floating free.
One day, she started painting faces and bodies with cut-away views that revealed brightly colored abstract tissue and organs. Recently, she began painting female figures with bikini outfits, and groupings of heads that are joined together depicting generations, twins, families, or some other relationship. Her work is constantly evolving.
Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso was born in Güines, a small town near Havana, Cuba, on September 28, 1985. The youngest of two children, Pedroso has been deaf since birth and does not speak. She communicates with her immediate family through a series of rudimentary signs, but those exchanges are limited to her most basic needs and emotional states. She spends most of her time at the apartment in the company of her family.
Politically, economically, and socially, Cuba has been isolated for decades. As a result, Misleidys has experienced a kind of double isolation and produced an oeuvre that is almost entirely influenced by her internal state, the confines of the family’s apartment, and the social contact she has within its walls.
No one knows why Misleidys began painting or her perception of the work she is producing, but her mother has occasionally observed her daughter standing in front of the drawings, looking at them and gesturing as if she were speaking to them. Misleidys looks at her paintings in the eyes, as though she recognizes them—as one recognizes a friend or someone they have known in this world.
Perhaps they are protective beings that she produces to watch over the life of her small family, or playmates with whom she can converse when others are not around. Maybe they are manifestations of less innocent fantasies. Whatever the true nature of this work may be, Misleidys is clearly breathing life into her figures, creating beings that exist in the space between our world and her own.
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.
Preface : Karen Wong
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso : Musculatura Viva, from april 19th to may 31st, 2015.