Gladys Triana was born in Camagüey, Cuba, and has resided in New York City since 1975. Triana completed her B.A. at Mercy College in 1976, and M.A. at Long Island University in 1977. She also studied printmaking at San Fernando University in Madrid, Spain from 1970-1972.
In 1957, Triana’s paintings caught the eye of artist Mario Carreño, who was then the Director of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba. Carreño decided to include her work in a group exhibition at the museum, which would mark the beginning of a long career for the self-taught Triana, who has since been described as one of the most authentic and versatile Cuban artists of her generation. Living in New York City since 1975, her work has rebelled—in ways overt and subtle—against society’s attempts to stereotype women and impose limitations on their freedom of expression.
Triana has received two Cintas Fellowships in Art, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants in 2015-16 and 2018-19, the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s CALL Program grant, and was the 2016 recipient of the Centro Cultural Cubano de Nueva York’s Amelia Peláez Award.
From 1986 to 1988, Triana made 20 drawings in honor of women artists and intellectuals—including Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriela Mistral, Alexandra Exter, Mary Cassat, and others—whose work had broken new ground in denouncing political oppression, war, and social injustice. Her first installation at the Museum of the Americas in Washington, which opened to critical acclaim in 1990, was an eloquent tribute to women trapped by domestic life. Her art often references women’s daily activities, exposing each mundane movement as an ephemeral event, and imbuing it with a hidden burst of creativity and life. Throughout her many artistic incarnations, Triana has revealed a constant need to avoid a traditional way of seeing. And so it is today with her photography, where she attempts to align the emotional realm with the poetry of the visual image.
Triana’s artwork includes prints, drawings, collages, works on canvas, photography, films, and installations. Triana’s work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions and group shows around the US and abroad, including in museums such as The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, El Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo, El Museo de Bellas Artes in Santiago de Chile, El Museo de la Ciudad in Mexico, the Housatonic Museum in Connecticut, The NSU Art Museum of Fort Lauderdale, the Frost Art Museum in Miami, and the ASU Art Museum in Arizona.
Triana mentions Goya, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio as classical influences on her work, as well as modern artists such as Duchamp, Bacon, and works from the Futurism movement. Through various stages in her artistic career, Triana has focused on visual expressions of movement, fragmentation, transformation, and the interplay between light and shadow.
Triana’s work was the subject of Gladys Triana: A Retrospective Review 1965 – 2016, published in 2016. The book contains a forward by Eduardo Sullivan, with articles by Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Luis Carlos Emerich, Barbara MacAdam, Adriana Herrera, and José Antonio Navarrete. Review copies are available by request.
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