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The Godfather / screen print / Ñiko / Cuba

18.06.12

Poster Poster

In August 2011 I was lucky enough to visit the island of Cuba for a ten day trip, which was a fantastic experience. It really does feel like a country stuck in a time warp, circa 1965, particularly once you leave the capital and head into the countryside. It’s a stunningly beautiful island with very hospitable people but the relative poverty of the country is clear to see. It’s often said that the government is likely to relax the current freeze on foreign (particularly Western) investment once ‘Comandante’ Fidel Castro passes away, although with his brother Raul currently in charge very little has changed. This article on the BBC gives you an insight into the current situation.

The Cuban people’s love for film and cinema-going is legendary and our guidebook claimed that at the end of the 1950s there were over 300 cinemas in the capital Havana alone. Today, these great old buildings continue to thrive and whilst there I witnessed the queues of people lining up to see the latest releases. I took this picture of the Yara cinema in the Vedado area of Havana before the evening crowds descended.

Whilst in Havana I visited a bookshop that was selling original Cuban propaganda posters printed in the 1950s and 60s by OSPAAAL. They also had a handful of screen-printed film posters, all of which were reprints of the original Cuban cinema posters or re-imagined designs by local artists. They are officially screen printed by the ICAIC (Instituto Cubano de Artes Industrias Cinematografia) in Havana.

This poster for Francis Ford Coppola‘s classic crime epic The Godfather was designed and illustrated by Antonio Pérez González Ñiko. Born in Havana in 1941, Ñiko (as he is known) studied a Bachelor degree in Art at the city’s university before getting a job at a graphic design agency. He was instrumental in designing multiple posters for the Cuban revolutionary movement in the 1960s and 1970s as well as many film posters in conjunction with the ICAIC.

Now a resident of Mexico, Ñiko works as a professor of Graphic Design at the Gestalt Design School in Xalapa, Veracruz. He continues to design and paint and his work has been featured in countless exhibitions around the world. His personal blog can be viewed here. Galleries of his work can be viewed on his Cargo Collective website here, and the sheer number of film posters he’s worked on is nothing short of incredible.

Whilst in Havana I also picked up a few other posters, one of which (A Clockwork Orange) I have already posted here.