Wifredo Lam, Campesina Castellana (1927), Pencil on paper, Private Collection, Wifredo Lam © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

I wanted with all my heart to paint the drama of my country,” Wifredo Lam (1902–1982) famously said, “but by thoroughly expressing the Negro spirit, the beauty of the plastic arts of the blacks. In this way I would act as a Trojan horse that would spew forth hallucinating figures with the power to surprise, to disturb the dreams of the exploiters.”

This is a fittingly surreal way for Cuba’s original surrealist to describe his intentions on...


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