Commentary on quote from Cuban artist Quisqueya Henriquez regarding Dominican painting

By now, those of you who follow Dominican art will have heard about the controversy surrounding the Dominican Republic's 27th National Bienal for Fine Arts.  I would like to draw your attention to the quote from Quisqueya Henriquez, a Cuban artist and a juror of the Bienal, as reported in the online Dominican newspaper, Diario Libre, on August 20, 2013.
"Quisqueya Henríquez manifestó que las propuestas que hicieron los pintores no estaban a la altura de la calidad de los otros lenguajes. "La pintura dominicana, en la actualidad, no merecía un premio, no obstante hubo una cantidad de ellas seleccionadas. Estamos hablando de más de 500 obras, y se hizo una selección de 186", dijo, al dejar claro que ésa fue la valoración que hicieron." 
For those of you who do not understand Spanish, Henriquez said that while over 500 works were submitted for consideration for the 27th Bienal, and 186 were selected for consideration for a prize, no Dominican painting was selected because, as Henriquez said,the painters were not at the same level of QUALITY as the other "languages."  For this reason, no Dominican painting was selected for a prize.

 There are various problems with this comment.
  • The painters are NOT who are being JUDGED.  It is their WORKS of art that should be judged.
  •  I find it hard to belie, that out of the paintings submitted, not one Dominican painting sirvió or was worthy of a prize.  How can Henriquez, whose field of expertise is in collage, print, video, installation, and sound, judge what is QUALITY painting or not?
    • If the Dominican Republic has no quality paintings, and therefore, painters, how then do GALLERIES in the Dominican Republic prosper, like Mesa Fine Art, Arte San Ramon, Galeria Nader, Arawak, etc.. ?
    • How do painters in the Dominican Republic earn a living principally from selling their paintings, if supposedly, Dominican painting does not deserve a prize?
    • If Dominican painting does not deserve a prize at the Bienal then why do fine art schools like, Chavon, Bellas Artes, UASD, even exist?  Isn't this then a commentary that the professors who teach the painters of the Dominican Republic do not know how to teach?  For if they knew how to teach, then of course, Dominican painting would be worthy of a prize and be of quality.
    • If Dominican paintings aren't worthy of a prize at the Bienal, then why do Dominican painters living in Europe and the United States continue to garner praise in those respective countries and continue to show their work in well respected museums and galleries?
I suggest that the Cuban, Quisqueya Henriquez, re-examine her beleifs about Dominican painting and see that in fact, Dominican painters do produce works of quality that DO deserve to be recognized by the artistic community in the Dominican Republic.


  1. I can understand that having seen the paintings in the Bienal you may consider that one or more of them deserved a prize, but you were not one of the THREE judges and in the end it was their decision. I really cant understand your argument. First of all,IN the Diario Libre article, Quisqueya (who is a cuban born Dominican artist) says the painters were not good enough because she is seeing the paintings and not the painters. (in many cases, unless the artists are well known, the judges dont know the painter). According to you, just because there are good art schools and good art galleries here means that the painters deserve a prize?... That doesnt guarantee that the artists that submitted paintings are any good. Its as if you think that EVERY dominican painter on earth submitted a painting. The same goes for your argument about dominican painters who are well known in Europe and USA.... they didnt submit paintings..and just because painters earn a living by painting doesnt mean they deserve a prize at the bienal... and since when does a judge have to be a painter to judge painting? Are you a painter?. have you seen all the entries?.. Are you aware that there were three judges?..I am sorry,, but there is not a single argument here that deserves to be taken seriously. I am not sure, but it doesn't seem to me that you have even seen all the paintings submitted or even know a lot about the Bienal.

  2. David, it sounds like you, as am I, are very passionate about Dominican art because you have taken time to respond to my comments on what Quisqueya Henriquez said in the newspaper about the quality of Dominican painting.

    For some background, I am not a painter, but rather a person who deals Dominican art internationally.

    The reason I commented on Quisqueya Henriquez's view on Dominican painting submitted to the Bienal is because I think that it seems impossible to me that not one painting was of "quality," whatever the jury interprets that word to mean.

    Thank you

  3. But that is not at all what she said, she said it wasnt , in their opinion ( which was their role, to give their opinion) wasnt good enough, and this isnt the first time or place that a price is not given to a particular category for the same reason. Sometimes , the jury simply understands that the work submitted does not deserve the price.. thats all. There is nothing unbelievable about that. There were three jurors, including a Chus Martinez ,chief curator of Museo del Barrio in New York. All three very qualified experts. That happens. ... Anyway.. here is an an article about an open letter, written and signed by a large group opf artists in support of the Bienal and the jury:

  4. David:

    Showing me an open letter from a group of artists (and those that are installation/performance artists, and have studied mainly at Chavon - "the progressive art school" of the DR) that support the Bienal does not cause me to change my opinion on what Henriquez did in fact state - see the quote above from Diario Libre.

    This discussion is not about a prize not being awarded. It is that Henruiquez (yes, there were 3 jurors - but I am basing my argument on what Henrquiquez stated in Diario Libre) stated that in all the paintings submitted not one painting was worthy of being recognized by the national artist community.

    Esperemos que esos artistas como todos los quien han dado premio trasciendan, porque si das cuenta de la historia del bienal los artistas premiados, la mayoría, llegan de dejar el arte. Tantos bienales, y donde esta el arte dominicano internacionalmente?

    Ese arte que se premia hoy en dia en este bienal - esperamos que rinda frutos. Esto es mi deseo de corazón, porque representara "la identidad dominicana" que se premia hoy en dia.

  5. So your opinion is that it is impossible for the jurors opinion to be that which she said is their opinion?..and your argument for saying that their opinion , and I stress the word opinion ( that was their role as jurors) is wrong is that 1( There are a lot of art schools here, 2) Lots of artists make money painting, 3) Some dominican artists are doing well internationally 4) Quisqueya Henriquez does not specialize in painting in her own work..
    Im sorry but that makes no sense to me.. and I dont see what is so unbelievable about there not being a painting that they (the jury) considered prize worthy. They did recognize many paintings and they were exhibited , which is in itself an important recognition especially for younger artists. If you dont mind me asking: Which one would you have given the prize to? I certainly have my favorite but I certainly dont consider it a masterpiece.


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