Leonardo Padura’s Cuba is gritty. It’s dark and dank and hot. At one point, Padura’s famous literary detective, Lieutenant Mario Conde, compares the heat in Havana to a “malign plague invading everything.” With each word Padura presents the Havana he wants readers to inhabit. How does he use tone, pace, and scale to characterize the city?
Georgia O’Keeffe uses paint to create her landscapes. She paints the skulls; she paints the flowers; she paints the canyons and the mountains and the skyscrapers. What stories do O’Keeffe's landscapes tell us, and how are they conveyed to viewers through paint?
O’Keeffe and Padura are unrivaled in representing landscape, and to put them in conversation with each other, we read Padura’s Havana Red and excerpts from Georgia O’Keeffe’s Wartime Texas Letters—as well as look at some of O’Keeffe’s most noteworthy paintings. How do these two artists wield their tools to create a scene, to evoke an emotion, to lay bare an underlying truth? What do their works have in common? How do they differ? How do we react to the different mediums and why?
The mission of any artist is to find, over and over, new ways of seeing so we can continue to grow within our craft. As we delve into the work of two artists with different approaches to depicting the land around them, we each create our own landscapes in whatever medium we choose, literary or visual.