Mercy Rivadulla

Mercy Rivadulla… the Dream City Game

Last modified: March 21, 2023

There is no doubt: this architect and painter is authentic. Like a puzzle, she rearranges her city of Havana as she wishes, with oil and acrylics on canvas. The spectator who “visits” her work will travel around many places, emblematic or not, and he will discover El Morro, the University of Havana, the Revolution Square, or a simple little house of any neighborhood…without taking his eyes off that square, block or whichever name you wish to use. It is a wide lens from where you can reach the beautiful capital of the Caribbean Isle, seen from an artistic perspective.

I present to you… Mercy Rivadulla (Havana, 1960). Through her pieces it seems that she wishes to cover the cultural richness, the architecture (colonial and eclectic), and the typical characters that wander through Havana; all in this dream space where everything that she loves and remembers from her birthplace breathes. Each one of her paintings is like an adventure, an open door to the nascent spirit, a portion of Cuban identity. It is, in a word, a tiny poem that calls to a different dialogue of man with the surrounding nature. For this she uses, in addition to an impeccable skill, an accurate taste for color, that infinite light (like the one that illuminates us every day on this side of the planet), an air of innocence, Cuban humor, and lyricism. These are “adjectives” by means of which we can qualify the work of this creator, graduated of architecture at the Superior Technical Institute José Antonio Echavarría (ISPJAE) towards 1984.

Among the forms and shades living in her creations, you will discover details of the city which maybe you have never considered.  That is the result of all the hours that the artist spends walking through the streets and neighborhoods with the retina ready to capture what others cannot see, to later translate them into the protagonists of her pictorial gifts. They appear in a corner, for a visual surprise, totally restored. In her studio, with a limitless imagination she molds her creations. As an architect she groups the buildings of the city in her own way. As if they were bricks of a construction, she takes fragments of a building and set them in the place where she considers they should breathe. In that way the buildings grow beyond styles, materials, and epochs… There are colonial elements, tiles, columns, skyscrapers, small palaces, common houses… which transform the face of each construction in her hands. The artist is not a fairy godmother; neither has a “magic wand”. With her imagination, the dome of the Capitol in her pictorial works can decorate a building of La Habana Vieja, or some Doric columns can hold a wooden house. Modernism, Art Deco, the colonial architecture…, all is boiling in the same building. The eclecticism is her compass, because everything fits in it; it is a surrealist mixture, where there are also the most unimaginable characters, those who wander through the city, and others who she brings, without visa or passport, from other latitudes to make us laugh, think and distract the mind.

This dream city game transforms Havana in a Wonder City – what it actually is -, and gives us a lot of hidden sites of our capital in one image. All of this artist’s works bear the stamp: “Made in Cuba”; if you won’t recognize any distinctive element, you will always find something “strange”, something amazing, exuberant colors, voluptuous women, an incredible situation (the marvelous realism of this land), or a perfectly blue/radiant sky which will reveal the nationality. This creator, who over the years has explored artistically San Cristóbal de la Habana, this magical space, full of surprises, has many “arms” to conquer the spectator. 

Toni Piñera
Author Placeholder

Journalist for more than 30 years at the Granma newspaper, art and dance critic, professor at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, curator of Cuban art exhibitions (former director of the La Acacia gallery, Havana), poet.

back to top