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Text by Francine Birbragher
Humberto Castro belongs to the 1980's generation of Cuban artists. His existential  language is based on the use of the stylized human figure; the treatment and context  of which transmits an array of messages ranging from the political denunciation to  the purely poetic.
Humberto Castro, Mis ideas determinan tus limitaciones, 1988
Humberto Castro: The Paris Years, is his first individual exhibition in a US museum.  The collection presents a retrospective vision of Castro's work, which includes a  selection of the artistic production completed during his stay in the City of Light  (1989-1999), as well as a painting done in Cuba and various recent pieces done in  Miami.   
Mis ideas determinan tus limitaciones (My Ideas Determine Your Limitations) (1988),  exemplifies his work done in the island and introduces various elements that with  the passage of time have become an essential part of his visual proposal. It is a  piece of great dimensions, painted in a monochromatic mode with shades of whites,  grays, and blacks. Two winged, androgynous figures enclose a beheaded figure  incrusted on a pedestal with a bronze plaque bearing the name of the piece. In this  early work one can appreciate the artist's interest in drawing and design, techniques  he has finally mastered with great perfection.   
During the first years in Paris, Castro completed two series based on the Minotaur  and the zodiac signs. The pieces chosen for the exhibition show how all the  characteristics already mentioned consolidate as the artist explores the effects of  time on human existence. The Parisian elegance and glamour are tacitly shown in  the figures of the early 1990's. Strong tones are combined with fluidity of line,  creating sensual and even erotic images. For instance, in La luna más alta (The  Highest Moon) (1990), the fire-red hues make the main figure, a nude woman lying  in a provocative pose, look more aggressive.
Humberto Castro, Sea Horse, 1998, Museum of Fort Lauderdale
After a transitory period, when he produced earth-colored works with more universal  symbols, like La luna y la espiral (The Moon and the Spiral) (Equinox, 1991), Castro  develops a series based on the Minotaur. Some of these pieces were presented in the  show titled El minotauro en su laberinto (The Minotaur in its Labyrinth) in 1995 at the  Galería Ambrosino in Miami. The museum presents a new selection that emphasizes  the delicacy and the poetics of this series; one of the richest and most sensual of Castro's  oeuvre. Here, the main character is shown as a stylized figure with horns and legs.
The warm tones range from pale beige to intense blood-red, creating a strong tension  between empty space and the line. Tension is also evident in the pose of the figures  embracing themselves - due perhaps to physical or emotional pain, or maybe to the  anguish felt as many of them see themselves confronting the labyrinth (Laberinto en  escaleras [Labyrinth on the Staircase], 1994, and Minotauro [Minotaur], 1994). 
Humberto Castro, Minotauro, 1994
In 1995, as the massive exodus of Cuban balseros went on, Castro develops a new  theme. New organic forms appear in his canvases, specifically the snail, a symbol of the  home and of the traveler who carries his home on its shoulders (Bleu [Blue], 1998). Cuba's  map, as well as the balsero , also appears in some of the pieces (Fuga nocturna [Night  Escape], 1995). They are symbols that avoid being anecdotal due to Castro's contextual  treatment of them in each individual painting.
From the marine theme forward -and surely influenced by the pneumatic inner tubes used  by the balseros- Castro develops several paintings where figures appear enclosed in  circular spaces. The composition and the treatment of color in these paintings are  particularly attractive. In Entre dos aguas (Between Two Waters), 1998, the two figures  tangled-up in the middle of the inner tube reinforce the dynamics of the scene. The blue  and iron oxide hues referencing the marine, appear in works of a more existentialist nature,  like Traición e inocencia (Betrayal and Innocence), 1998, where two walking figures hold  hands, the first guiding the second, without realizing that the latter one conceals a knife  behind his back. 
The selection end with recent studies of color and the human figure, which are related to  more universal themes like passion, fertilization, and human existence. Enormous  canvases -treated with varnishes that could stand-out themselves as abstract works-  serve as backgrounds to the figures that walk on a tightrope or float adrift an aquatic  background. It is obvious, Castro has reached maturity in his pictorial works. These pieces,   like Invasión (Invasion), 2001, and Cuerda Floja (Tight Rope), 2001, show total technical  as well as thematic mastery. 
Humberto Castro, Como los peses, 1998
Perhaps this is the reason why he explores the realms of sculpture and installation. The  exhibit presents various works in bronze: Minotauro, 2001, a torso that makes reference  to the work done in Paris;   Maredón, 2001, a character sitting on a chair with his hands tied and strangled by an  oar; and El muro de los lamentos (The Wailing Wall), 2001, a character with an incrusted  oar placed in front of a wall painted with skulls. These tridimensional pieces are of great  force, but they lack the sensuality of the pictorial works. No doubt, the theme of exile is  too strong to be represented in a form other than the hard image Humberto Castro depicts  in his enormous bronzes.
Humberto Castro, Learning to Share, 2007