On July 30th 1962, and with the authorization of Ernesto (Che) Guevara de la Serna, Orlando Suárez, Cuban muralist and head of the Provincial Council of Culture, and José Venturelli, Chilean painter and engraver, founded the Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana (TEGH, by its abbreviation in Spanish). Both artists, together with master lithographs Israel de la Hoya, Amable Mouriño and José (Pepe) Contino, who was the head of the institution until his death in 1976, gave life to the TEGH.
The Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square) host the TEGH since its foundation. During its first years, it was located in a small room at the Palacio del Marqués de Arcos. Then, in the 80´s, it was moved to its current place at the Callejón del Chorro, in what had been a warehouse until that moment.
About engraving and its relationship with avant-garde movement, the current head of the TEGH, Octavio Irving, told us that “when you make a historiography of art in Cuba, it is evident that the art of engraving was ahead of the so called artistic avant-garde; the artists who were devoted to illustration or graphic used to publish their works in magazines and newspapers of the time, and they made a politically active art; there was a tradition, a sediment of the graphic work”. That tradition materialized and evolved with the creation of the TEGH.
Nowadays, this is the oldest graphic workshop that gathers the biggest amount of artists in Cuba. Since its foundation, its members have expressed themselves and have built their own aesthetics through different techniques as the xylography, lithography, chalcography, collagraphy, and monotype. Among those members, we can distinguish Antonia Eiriz, Víctor Manuel, Roberto Matta, Fremez, Posada, Sosabravo, Armando Pose, Roger Aguilar, Raymundo Orozco, Matamoros, Omar Kezel, Carlos del Toro, José Omar, Angel Ramírez, Luis Lara. They have also been excellent referents for Cuban designers of different generations.
Since the 12th Biennial of Havana, which was celebrated on 2015, the work rhythm at the TEGH has grown. Almost every month, collective exibitions have been shown. Folders and portfolios have been prepared to promote collaboration and professional exchanges with artists, universities and graphic workshops in countries like United States, Australia, Germany, and Spain.
After 54 years, the TEGH continues to be an open space for creation and experimentation, as well as a transcendent place for preserving graphic heritage and developing the Cuban visual arts.