“Looking Within” (Mirando adentro) is a show of mixed media works by this 22-year-old artist. The works are a close examination of her own short life, who she is, where she came from (an early series was called “Place of Origin”), her relationships with family, friends and lovers. Mabel’s work is intensely personal, even emotional, but it is never sentimental. It is precise and carefully crafted. A large work shown in New York in 2006,* for example, consisted of 3,136 tiny screen prints of herself as a baby, and when viewed from a distance a current portrait of herself emerges. It was put together with 12,544 nails on canvas nearly eight feet by six feet. (The fact that she KNOWS how many prints and nails is telling.)
In her earliest works on paper, starting when she was 16, she used family photographs and collages with her drawings to tell the story of a divided family, one she brought together in her art. Her parents’ divorce disappears in these works, mother and father surround their daughter in a loving relationship. Her own beautiful face and body, vulnerable, even modest while naked (sometimes age three, sometimes 20) seems to float through an uncertain world. Leaving her home in Cienfuegos to study art in Havana and live with an accomplished artist at only 17 could not have been easy. Yet she seemed to take it all in stride because of her art, and with her art. Another 2006 work** is a sort of Venetian blind: one side is constructed of hundreds of tiny screen prints of her as a baby and from a distance the image is her family home in Cienfuegos; when flipped, the small prints are of the 17 year old Mabel and the larger image is of the San Alejandro Art Academy.
While this show emphasizes her most recent works, a few early works on paper are included, some done when she was only 17 and 18. Still studying in the graduate school of art, ISA (she is about to start her second year), Mabel studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts, the famous San Alejandro School, graduating with highest honors. She apprenticed in a workshop started by well known Cuban installation artist Tania Bruguera that brought her together with well-known artists for a year and a half.
This is her fourth personal exhibit and she has taken part in 16 group shows in Cuba, Spain, Portugal and the United States. In one of the most important group shows, that of the invitational homage to the great Cuban painter Antonia Eirez at the Servando Gallery in Havana, she was the youngest artist whose participation was invited, at 20. Mabel Poblet cannot attend the opening of her first solo show in the United States because of U.S. government restrictions: the State Department