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Museum: Background Information


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Kcho (pronounced KAH-cho) was born Alexis Leyva Machado in 1970 on La Isla de la Juventud, a small island south of Havana, Cuba. He got his nickname--from cacho, meaning "chunk" or "piece" in Spanish--from his father. A carpenter, Kcho's father taught his young son to use hand tools and build things with wood. Like other Cuban children, Kcho was educated by the state-run socialist school system, which offered a far-reaching cultural curriculum that included art. His teachers recognized his artistic talent early, and Cuba's national art school in Havana accepted him at the age of 14. His work began to earn attention outside of Cuba and he was invited to show his art in international exhibitions. The socialist government in Cuba has made travel nearly impossible for the general public, but in 1992, after graduating from art school, he made his first voyage out of Cuba. Since then he has been one of few Cuban artists able to travel to exhibit his works, but recently even Kcho has found it increasingly difficult to travel.

Boats are an ongoing motif in Kcho's work. While these boats often give the illusion of floating or functioning, they cannot. In Obras Escogidas this is emphasized by the artist's choice to place the boat on a table and construct it from textbooks he used as a student. This underscores the aspect of art most important to Kcho: Art functions as pure illusion. Obras Escogidas tries to make visible Cuba's hidden social structure and suggests the complexity of the nation's ideas.

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Type: Commentary, online content
Source: Kcho, Obras Escogidas (Selected Works) (1994), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.
Rights: Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009