Left - Artists in state-run Cuba feel pressure from the government to sanitize political issues and any commentary on the difficulties of Cuban life from their works. While the more open era of Raúl Castro has made it easier to toe the line in these areas of self-expression, artists who cross it altogether risk losing the support of government-controlled galleries that display their works.
Here, Artist Arístides Hernández discusses his painting, which depicts possible bidirectional paranoia resulting from the future melding of Cuban and American culture - the former represented by the Lilliputians, and the latter, by Gulliver, both from the novel Gulliver's Travels - in his work studio in Havana, Cuba on April 29, 2015.
Right - Art during the Communist years was highly sanitized - and artists who chose not to show a utopian view of the country, censored and punished. The post-1989 years of Bulgarian art history renewed creativity of expression in its community - a gift especially to those who sought to express a variety of political ideas, or a non-idealized view of their society.
A painting that used to decorate a school during the Communist era now hangs in the hallway of The Factory for Urban Art, seen in Bulgaria's capital Sofia, on November 7th, 2014. The factory is a former wholesale warehouse where artists now rent studios for much lower rates than in the rest of the city. The art collective Destructive Creation - the same which recently spray-painted Sofia's Monument to the Soviet Army in Western superhero outfits - sparked the idea for the factory.
I've used diptychs to bridge one country’s past - communist Cuba - to another country’s present - post-1989 Bulgaria - to show that political ideals, its profiteers and its victims, can remain unchanged by time or geography.