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Christine Lafuente INSIDE/OUTSIDE: On Pause in Old San Juan


Pictured on cover: Big Cloud, 11x14, oil on canvasÂ

On March 3rd of this year, virtually simultaneous with the first known case of coronavirus that appeared in New York, I flew from JFK Airport to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico to begin a painting project I had named Inside/Outside. I set out to express, in paint, the fluidity of interior and exterior spaces in Caribbean Spanish Colonial Architecture. Here in Old San Juan, the views of the city and the sea are part of the indoors. Terraces, rooftops, courtyards, doorways, standing umbrellas, and city plazas blend the private and the social, the intimate and the public. This fluidity between spaces mirrors the mixed cultural identity of Afro-Taino-CaribbeanSpanish-Americans, an aspect of my identity largely buried in my American upbringing.


I envisioned this project as a way to experience, approximately at best, the culture of my father’s childhood in Cienfuegos, Cuba during the 1940’s and 50’s. On the eve of Castro’s Revolution in 1959, my father Juan Lafuente left Cuba to return to his winter semester at Tulane University, not knowing he was never to return to Cuba. For me, growing up in Poughkeepsie, stories of his life had a mythical quality. These stories were lost when my father was tragically killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Since that day, I have been imagining my father’s Cuba as a way to understand the totality of his life. My plan was to be in Old San Juan for a month, but by March 15th Puerto Rico had gone on total lockdown. Within a week, I had to make the very difficult decision to shelter-in-place in Puerto Rico rather than risk exposure by flying back into the city that was the epicenter of the pandemic. Like so many, I have essentially been in isolation since that time. The work took on an intense kind of interiority. Even the seascapes and cityscapes painted from my terrace, normally full of conversation and gatherings, took on a pure kind of longing. These months of working in isolation, unable to return home, has reconnected me with something I have known since living through my first major loss: that the act of painting from nature is a desperate prayer to hold onto the buoyancy of life.


Bay at Dusk 14 x 18 inches oil on linen


Bougainvillea on the Terrace 11 x 14 inches oil on canvas


Bougainvillea, Blue Bowl, and Bay 12 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


Bougainvillea, Coral Vine, and Fruit 9 x 12 inches oil on mounted line


Calle Sol, Evening 14 x 11 inches oil on canvas


Capilla Dome 12 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


Casa Blanca and Bay of San Juan 9 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


Casa Blanca and Terrace, Sunset 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Casa Blanca, Chair, and Ladder 10 x 8 inches oil on mounted linen


Casa Blanca, Evening 16 x 20 inches oil on linen


Casa de Salud and Distant Mountains 8 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Clouds and Mountains 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Dusk over Puerto Rico 4 x 8 inches oil on mounted linen


Dusky Buildings Toward the Bay 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


End of Day over Old San Juan 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Escalinata del Hospital 12 x 9 inches oil on mounted linen


Facades and Rooftops on Calle Sol 14 x 14 inches oil on linen


Fortaleza, Chapel, and Bay 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Frangipani and Periwinkle 12 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


La Fortaleza 14 x 14 inches oil on linen


Mountains and Bay of San Juan 12 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


Mountains and Clouds, San Juan 12 x 16 inches oil on linen


Mountains at Dusk 8 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Periwinkle and Yellow Trumpets 14 x 18 inches oil on linen


Rooftop Lounge 10 x 10 inches oil on mounted linen


Rooftops and Distant Mountains 14 x 14 inches oil on linen


Rooftops and Power Lines 11 x 14 inches oil on canvas


Sink, Lemons, and Bouganvillia 9 x 12 inches oil on mounted linen


Artwork Photography by Joe Painter

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Profile for Somerville Manning Gallery

Christine Lafuente - Inside/Outside: On Pause in Old San Juan  

Christine Lafuente explores her new series of work created during her Covid-19 quarantine away from home, in Puerto Rico. Exhibition at Some...

Christine Lafuente - Inside/Outside: On Pause in Old San Juan  

Christine Lafuente explores her new series of work created during her Covid-19 quarantine away from home, in Puerto Rico. Exhibition at Some...

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