Julian Schnabel, Daniel Daza






For the moment, my name is Reinaldo Arenas. The Justice Department has declared me stateless, so legally I don’t exist. I live on the edge of society, in any place in the world.

I’m homosexual, anti-Castro, and I’m not religious.

R. Arenas

Reinaldo Arenas was born in Aguas Claras, Cuba in 1943, he was a novelist, playwright, and poet known for his magic-realism works and his opposition to the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. With the exception of his first book, Celestino Before Alba (1967), all his novels and essays were published outside of Cuba during a period of exile of more than 10 years after being persecuted by Fidel Castro’s government due to his sexual preferences. He finished writing his autobiography, Antes Que Anochezca a few days before committing suicide in New York City in the winter of 1990.

Arena’s autobiography was the starting point for the script of Before Night Falls (2000) a film by American artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, which portrays Arena’s life from his childhood in Cuba, the discovery of his homosexuality, his development as writer, the oppression he suffered under Castro’s government, until the exile in the United States and, finally, his own battle against HIV / AIDS.

Due to the restrictions of the Cuban government, most of the production of the film took place in Mexico, using Merida, Progreso and El Puerto de Veracruz, as locations, which simulated different scenarios in Cuba. During the filming of Before Night Falls in Yucatan, Schnabel, together with his family and friends, as well as actors from the film, including Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp, stayed at a mansion owned by the family of the Yucatecan gallerist and collector Manolo Rivero in Itzimna. During his time there, Schnabel made a series of works which were exhibited in an improvised exhibition in the dining room of the house at the end of his stay.

For El Rey, one of the three inaugural exhibitions of SALÓN: the exhibitions program at Salón Gallos, we have attempted to reconstruct that intimate exhibition in 2000 and additionally, include a series of photographs by Mexican photographer Daniel Daza, who worked together with Schnabel documenting the process of the film. Facsimiles of a selection of short stories in the Arena’s autobiography are distributed throughout the space, thus generating a container of different narrative layers of the same story from different moments and points of view, which intertwine and coincide in Reinaldo Arenas.








Actualizado: 4 de oct de 2020

Gustavo Monroy, Yolanda Mora, José García Torres, Manolo Rivero, German Venegas, José García Ocejo, Leandro Soto, Diego Gutiérrez / Kees Hin




"My obsession with art is not about my own art, but the one of others."

M. Rivero

It was the summer of 2006 the first time I visited Merida, I arrived directly to check-in at the Trinidad Hotel after having traveled more than 1,500 kilometers by road. The hotel was on Calle 60 and 51 in the center of the city. A place full of works of art, antiques and curiosities located throughout the site with a chaotic and whimsical order; what had been the showroom of an automotive agency was used as a hotel lobby which connected with an art gallery and an antique shop. There were plants, fountains, sculptures and glass spheres creating an eclectic and surreal tropical atmosphere.

Meanwhile Manolo, the owner of the hotel, was preparing for his next and what would be the last trip of his life. A few days later he would travel to Asia where he would take the opportunity to buy more rugs, handicrafts and curiosities for his hotel and gallery which he handled simultaneously blurring the boundaries between one and the other.

Manolo Rivero, gallerist, collector and art lover, was born in Merida, Yucatan in 1941 and died while flying over the Atlantic Ocean in 2006. Among his many projects, perhaps the most relevant and to which he devoted the most energy and affection to, was Hotel Trinidad named after his mother, and which more than a hotel served as a true cultural and social center with great influence in the eighties and nineties. Manolo with a peculiar and eccentric lifestyle for his time, being admired and recognized for his great contribution to the art of the region and also for supporting Cuban artists of the 1990s during the Castro regime was himself an artist that generated special environments and connections through the art of others.

More than ten years after that first visit, I decided to return to Merida, this time to live here with my family. Then, I began to try to understand and reconstruct Manolo's influence on the cultural life of the city. Here, in the old factory of Don José Rivero -Manolo's father-, which we have transformed to conceive a set of cultural initiatives within the former Avena Rivero’s industrial warehouse, is where this review of his legacy takes place.

For the inaugural exhibition of SALÓN, the program of exhibitions at Salón Gallos, we brought together a series of works of art and objects related to the hotel and its founder, trying to remember the essence of that mythical place.

I hope you enjoy this exhibition along with the current and future programming of Salón Gallos, which I like to imagine, Manolo would have enjoyed visiting.

José García Torres

Merida, Yucatan, September 2020






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