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Art Undersea: Cuban Artist Sketches Under Sea Among Fish and Coral Reefs

For Cuba's Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea

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Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz. He experimented until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve. VOA

Some artists like to go on a countryside retreat to foster their creative process.

For Cuba’s Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea, surrounded by iridescent Caribbean fish and fantastical coral forms.

The 42-year-old first won renown at home and abroad for his predominantly black-and-white, haunting images of imaginary cityscapes, inspired by a trip to Europe and reflecting the aggressiveness of modern, urban life.

Then six years ago, he went scuba diving in Cuba and found his inspiration in the complete opposite: the tranquility found below water where all forms are natural and not manmade, all sounds are muffled and the light ripples softly.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez speaks to the media after painting underwater in Punta Perdiz, June 18, 2019. VOA

While Gonzalez had heard of a biologist painting underwater in Spain, he decided to experiment for himself until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve.

The Cuban learnt to then soak the canvasses for at least an hour and rinse them to get rid of the salt and any organic matter, before hanging them out to dry.

“This started off as a hobby, as a passion,” he told Reuters at Punta Perdiz, his favorite dive spot, sheltered in the Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 U.S.-backed Cuban exiles landed in a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

“But now I really need to come here, immerse myself and create below water because there is a peace there that you simply cannot find on dry land.”

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To do so, he gets fully kitted out in scuba diving gear including an oxygen tank and yellow flippers, and swims out 60 meters (197 feet) to his easel fixed in the seabed around 6 meters (20 feet) below the surface.

With him, he carries his canvas, and other equipment like a spatula for the oil paints weighed down with some lead to avoid it floating to the surface if he lets go.

The artist said he does not plan beforehand, instead allowing inspiration to strike as he enters a meditative state in the crystalline water. But inevitably his submarine work is more about nature than the cityscape series he continues to develop on land.

Being reliant on a tank limits the time underwater, but Gonzalez is quick and for this interview sketched in 30 minutes a flying whale, dragging a house behind it in a sky dotted with clouds. Palm trees grow off the creature’s back.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz, Cuba, June 18, 2019. VOA

“I really did not expect to see somebody under water, painting!” exclaimed Canadian tourist Mike Festeryga, who saw Gonzalez while diving along the seabed.

The state-run dive center at Punta Perdiz, on Cuba’s southern coast, some 172 km (107 miles) from Havana, said his work was an extra draw for tourists.

“For tourists, it’s really a novelty,” said Hector Hernandez, who has been working as a dive instructor in the area for more than 28 years.

Gonzalez, who makes a living selling work at his studio in Havana for a median price of $1,000 per canvas, exhibits some of his submarine work in the Punta Perdiz dive center.

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He is now hoping to get state permission to sell the work and develop the area as a center for underwater art.

“I would like for a department of submarine painting to be created,” he said. “I don’t think anything like that exists yet anywhere in the world.” (VOA)

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Gurgaon Literature Festival Celebrates its Second Edition at Cyber Hub

The event was conducted with great pomp and show as it witnessed the coming in of enthusiastic crowd who had a great inclination for art and literature

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Literature
The event was conducted with great pomp and show as it witnessed the coming in of enthusiastic crowd who had a great inclination for art and Literature.

Gurgaon Literature Festival, the flagship literary event on art and culture rolled out its second edition from 16th to 17th November 2019 at Amphi Theatre & Aditya Birla Arena in DLF Cyber Hub. In its second edition, this renowned literary conclave brought together hundreds of giants from all around India. Mental health, depression, addiction in art and literature were the recurring topics and overall theme of the event to create awareness about mental health problems. The chief guest of the event was Mohammad Kaif and DGP Haryana Manoj Yadav.

The series of events encompassed book launch which was followed by expert panel discussion leading to the award ceremony. The book launch event was carried forward by Manoj Yadav, Haryana DGP at 1 pm. Among other books, Daggers of Treason by Niraj Shrivastav secured the esteemed opportunity to be launched at the Gurgaon Literature Festival. Prior to the event, the DGP threw light on the thin line connecting the working environment of police and mental health associated with it.

Literature
Gurgaon Literature Festival, the flagship literary event on art and culture rolled out its second edition from 16th to 17th November 2019 at Amphi Theatre & Aditya Birla Arena in DLF Cyber Hub.

Followed by an expert panel discussion that took place at 5 pm and The Session on Is mythology actually history? Arjun Raj Gaind, Niraj Srivastav, Antar and Sutapa Basu were among the speakers. Both of the days the GLF witnessed crowd from all across the NCR and other parts of the nation.

Literature
The event was conducted with great pomp and show as it witnessed the coming in of enthusiastic crowd who had a great inclination for art and Literature, Awards were also Distributed.

After the panel discussion, an award ceremony was conducted at 6 pm dissipating a token of appreciation to all the deserving candidates where Niraj Srivastav won the Best Historical Fiction award for his book Daggers of Treason. Daggers of Treason is a historical fiction novel, based on the life and reign of emperor Khurram Shahjahan. One of the four-book series titled ‘The Curse of the Mughal Series.’

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The event was conducted with great pomp and show as it witnessed the coming in of enthusiastic crowd who had a great inclination for art and literature. People who attended the event were greatly inspired by the plethora of perspective and consciousness a cultural event like this could instill in oneself.