Augusto C. Bordelois (b. 1969 Havana, Cuba) graduated from the University of Havana with a major in English Language and Literature. He also studied sculpture, ceramics, costume design, classical drawing and formal painting. Augusto’s father was an engineer, so paper was easy to come by when toys were not. He drew incessantly from as far back as he can remember. He later started painting, as a child, with an eccentric, elderly man in rural Cuba.
Augusto persisted in refining his craft after college, receiving many awards in the competitions he entered and becoming a recognized painter in his country. He was invited to come to the states in 1999 for a series of exhibitions and lectures at the University of California, the University of Tennessee and Cleveland State University. During the tour, he met the woman who is now his wife and the mother of his daughter. They decided to settle in Cleveland. Augusto is a teaching artist at the Center for Arts-inspired Learning (previously known as Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio), The Art House and the Ohio Arts Council. He has served as a board member at Near West Theater, and is currently a board member with the Center for Arts-inspired Learning. He is a member of CSU’s Cleveland Arts Education Consortium Diversity Committee. He has been featured as a guest lecturer at Cleveland State University and Baldwin Wallace University.
Augusto has written hundreds of poems and short stories, and typically starts a series of paintings by writing about them first. He has created several different bodies of works relating to various subjects of interest: he is fascinated with fairy tales and their heroes and heroines – he explores his dreams through his painting, frequently working out common themes by incorporating them into somewhat dramatic situations or day to day happenings – he paints the power of the feminine and his perception of human and animal response to it. Like many of his fellow artists, he uses symbolism as a way to convey a message. “It is hard to tell a story without symbolism. In my series on emigration, we see a family who has left home to come to the United States. They are about to enter a clash of cultures, but they do what they have to do.” The man in his paintings is usually clutching a small bag. Emigrants were not allowed to leave with much, and the contents of this bag were of major importance to the family. Pictures, letters, and items with deep sentimental value were chosen over more practical things that could be replaced. The women are dressed more formally, a cultural norm that didn’t always seem appropriate here. The jobs they took were far below their level of education in Cuba, and Augusto often portrays a beautiful woman in overalls going off to work in the factories to make ends meet.
When asked how his work has changed since leaving Cuba and moving to the states, Augusto replies, “My themes may be more socially relevant, and there’s more symbolism. Life has changed, and themes may change. Some themes recur, but you can see the evolution of my work. This is hard – it’s self-reflective. If I thought it was good, I would probably stop. I constantly review my work and want to do better. Even if a piece is not as good as I would like, and I see this as I work on it, I still finish. It’s commitment and it’s discipline.”
Cuba has recognized Augusto’s work nationally in many exhibitions He has participated in more than 120 US national and international group shows and 27 solo exhibitions. His works are in private collections including Cuba, the United States, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, Greece, Germany, Chile, Switzerland, England and Norway. His work is also in the permanent collections of many colleges and Universities.
Augusto’s literary works have been published in magazines such as Kastello, and Hojas Literarias (Spain). He has also written and illustrated short stories for children and teacher activities’ guides. He was the founder and main teacher of “Taller de Niños” (Children’s Studio) at 23 & 12 Art Center in Havana, and also the co-founder of the multimedia marketing company “2 Pasos.” He co-founded and co-directed “Proyecto Horizontal”, a partnership of 65 Cuban artists, in which capacity he was invited to curate and present a group show at Cleveland State University 1999. Between 2002 and 2005, he was the founder and editor of The Art Fix – an electronic weekly newsletter that showcased and promoted local, national and international artists. Augusto has participated as a costume and float designer at different carnivals in Cuba and also at Parade the Circle in Cleveland, Ohio. He has assisted in designs of public spaces, coordinated community art programs and created public art pieces across Ohio.