José Antonio Pantoja Hernández was born in Cuba in 1971. As an artist who grew up in the Mayabeque Province of Cuba, in the city of Bejucal, "Pantoja" received apprenticeships as a carpenter and woodworker using antiquated tools. As his interests turned to painting and sculpting, he sought visual inspiration from a small collection of art books that showcased mainly works from Masters. By 2002, Pantoja paintings began to be depicted everyday life in Cuba. As a member of a state-sponsored art collective, Pantoja was eventually able to exhibit his works on the streets of the Havana promenade, "El Paseo Del Prado.” There, he would often only display one or two paintings a week, selling them to tourists. Over time, his work became more surreal and somber. Eventually, he began to paint what he calls "the errors of the Revolution." The director of the Queretaro City Museum in Mexico learned about Pantoja's work in 2011 and sent him an invitation to display his work in the museum. Pantoja was able to parlay that invitation into a special pass to leave Cuba. He said goodbye to his friends and family and boarded a plane to Mexico with eight paintings. When he landed in Mexico City in June of 2011, he decided not to exhibit his work and instead took a bus to the border town of Nuevo Laredo. There, he crossed into the U.S. border and asked for political asylum. The story of his defection was chronicled in August 2011 issue of This Land press, today Pantoja lives and paints in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The last egg
Pantoja standing next to his paintings at Paseo Del Prado Havana Cuba 2008
The last egg
oil on canvas 120x70 cm painted in Cuba 2007
José Antonio Pantoja Hernández American, born Cuba (1971-) Exodus
2017, acrylic on canvas 48x36 inch
Exodus is my reaction to the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of innocent Syrians at the hands of their own government. As the father of a young child, I was shocked by the countless images of children killed by bombs, and even worse-if that's possible-by the Syrian government's use of poison gas.
The special period was an extended economic crisis in cuba that began in 1991 after the dissolution of the soviet union,Cubans remember the decade as one of great suffering and hunger. Hunger and famine became widespread. During this time citywide blackout became a common occurrence. in this painting, we see a glimpse into the oppressive home life of cubans in bejucal the man at the center is my father;the woman seated by him is his girlfriend during the especial period, my father kept an emaciated pig in the apartment for about a year,until it was eventually sold to buy alcohol.
Portrait of Luis Hernández in the world of Cuban trova, almost no one will recognize him, but if he talks about El Plátano, just like that, everyone will discover the indefatigable photographer who for more than four decades immortalized the most famous faces of the song and of the young troubadours who began to defend the heritage of this cultural manifestation.