Roberto Fabelo - New Now New York Wednesday, March 8, 2023 | Phillips
  • Expanding upon the decade long utilization of chimerical animal motifs in Roberto Fabelo’s oeuvre, Persistencia del animal, 2012, integrates an introspective illustration of the human psyche into the artist’s continued “question of human beings’ roles as predators of the planet.”i The large-scale oil painting, which was featured in a 2012 solo exhibition at Galería Habana titled Roberto Fabelo: No Somos Animales (We Are Not Animals), depicts a rare rendering of a quasi-rhinoceros figure shrouded in chain and shadow. In the present work, Fabelo borrows renowned visual languages developed by Old Masters to achieve a realist approach to the representation of a supernatural being—a signature characteristic of the artist’s portraiture.
    “I have looked at artists like Dürer, Goya, Doré, Daumier, and others that would make an endless list of influences. I’ve venerated them because they are sacred referents, and important contributors in the development of my artistic vision.”
    —Roberto Fabelo

    Albrecht Dürer, Rhinocerus (Rhinoceros), 1515, Art Institute Chicago. Image: Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, 1939.247

    In Response to Old and Modern Masters


    Roberto Fabelo’s status as one of Cuba’s premier contemporary artists is due in large part to his mastery of revered painting techniques from art-historical canon. The realist style of rendering in Fabelo’s portfolio in addition to the subject matter immediately calls to Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinocerus, 1515. The cracks splayed across the forehead, detailed wrinkles, and larger than life head of the sitter remind one of the caricatures of Honore Daumier, such as Victor Hugo, 1849. The chiaroscuro utilized in Old Master paintings such as Francisco Goya’s Night of the Inquisition, 1810, is evident inspiration for the position of light in a central and concentrated region of canvas to both reinforce composition and implicate the tone of Persistencia del animal. By illuminating the left side of the sitter's face in stark contrast with the right side, the work is given a sense of movement, of oppressive shadow engulfing the figure.

    i Caridad Blanco de la Cruz, "Roberto Fabelo | Galeria Habana," in ArtNexus, vol. 12, no. 88, March–May 2013, pp. 100-101.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Havana, Galería Habana, Roberto Fabelo: Nos Somos Animales, 2012, pp. 8, 24, 25–27 (studio view with the artist illustrated on the front overlap; installation view illustrated, p. 8; illustrated, p. 25; detail illustrated, pp. 26–27)

    • Literature

      Isabel María Pérez Pérez, ed., Roberto Fabelo, Seville, 2016, pp. 70, 71 (illustrated, p. 71)


Persistencia del animal (Persistence of the animal)

signed and dated "Fabelo 2012" lower right; signed, titled and dated "Fabelo "PERSISTENCIA DEL ANIMAL" 2012 Fabelo" on the reverse
oil on canvas
92 1/2 x 78 1/2 in. (235 x 199.4 cm)
Painted in 2012, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Full Cataloguing

$70,000 - 100,000 

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 8 March 2023