From the series: Stolen from the Met, 2021
Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
Collage of dry paint on sheetrack
33 ¼ x 40 inch

Exhibición: La Caridad Nos Une

In his artistic practice, Pavel Acosta Proenza delves deep into the concept of theft, a recurring theme at the core of his work since its inception. Emerging as an artist after his graduation from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba, he found himself constrained by the lack of access to costly art materials. In response to this challenge, Pavel began to pilfer dry paint chips from the deteriorating walls of the city and various objects within his reach, employing these stolen remnants to create his signature collages on paper and canvas. These creations, aptly titled “Stolen Paintings,” symbolize his quest to survive as an artist in a society where resource scarcity necessitates unconventional means of procurement, reminiscent of the black market’s clandestine nature. Pavel is particularly drawn to exploring the fine line between destruction, criminality, and the act of creation. Through his work, he navigates the intricate web of ethics and morality woven into the fabric of Cuban society.

Relocating to the United States in 2010 marked a significant turning point in Pavel’s artistic journey. His exposure to the masterpieces housed in mainstream museums like MoMA and the Met, previously only known to him through books, inspired a profound reassessment of the genre of painting, its inherent characteristics, and boundaries, and his role within the art world. While his access to art materials was no longer a limitation, Pavel chose not to relinquish his penchant for theft. The skills he honed in Cuba proved to be valuable resources and powerful metaphors to confront new challenges, including the pursuit of an artist’s livelihood in this foreign context.

In Pavel’s more recent works, the source of his materials has shifted from the city’s crumbling walls to the hallowed halls of museums. These institutions, with their walls and collections, act as ambassadors for their policies, ideologies, and bearers of collective memories and history. The ongoing series titled “Wallscape” (2013 – present) sees Pavel engaging with the permanent collection galleries of museums. In these interventions, he meticulously peels off paint from the designated walls and repurposes the paint chips to recreate the very painting that once graced the space. The initial work in this series took place at El Museo del Barrio in New York during its 2013 Biennial. Pavel’s artistic explorations extend to other museums across the United States and internationally, promising similar thought-provoking interventions in the future.

Another facet of Pavel’s body of work involves the meticulous reproduction of masterpiece paintings from museum collections using the same technique of utilizing acrylic wall paint on drywall or sheetrock. These artworks are presented as collages and, rather uniquely, are detached from the wall, suspended from the ceiling using a wooden structure. Each piece is accompanied by a QR code, inviting viewers to explore the original painting on the museum’s webpage. In this manner, his low-tech creations can be seen as ghostly apparitions that navigate the realms of cutting-edge technology to reunite with their original counterparts. Pavel’s portfolio already includes detailed copies of works by revered masters such as Vermeer, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Murillo, Audobon, Monet, Magritte, Durer, and Courbet. Notably, in 2019, he had the opportunity to exhibit one of his copies alongside its original piece, a painting by Albert Bierstadt, from the collection of the University of Wyoming Art Museum, as they commissioned the work, and it now forms a part of their collection.


Pavel Acosta Proenza, born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1975, is a distinguished visual artist based in Miami, Florida. His artistic journey has taken him from Cuba to the international art scene, where he has gained recognition and numerous awards for his unique contributions to the world of contemporary art.

Pavel’s artistic education is marked by a commitment to honing his craft and skills. In 1989, he earned a Visual Arts Degree from the School of Visual Arts in Camagüey, Cuba. This early foundation in the arts was further strengthened when he obtained a BA in Engraving and Photography from the Academy of Fine Arts in Camagüey in 1993. His pursuit of knowledge led him to the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA) in Havana, Cuba, where he achieved an MA in Painting. Additionally, Pavel’s dedication to his craft took him abroad, where he completed a Visual Arts Course at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France in 2003.

Pavel Acosta has had numerous solo exhibitions, which have served as platforms to showcase his artistic vision. These exhibitions include “Pavel Acosta: Stolen from the Museum” at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Wyoming in 2019, “Pavel Acosta: New Paintings & Works on Paper” at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Miami in 2017, “Pavel Acosta: Present Work” at the Guttenberg Art Residence Gallery in New Jersey in 2015, “Stolen from the Met” at the Zadok Gallery in Miami in 2014, and many more. His solo exhibitions have provided an opportunity for art enthusiasts and collectors to engage with his thought-provoking work.

Group Shows: Pavel Acosta’s art has been featured in group exhibitions across the United States and beyond. His participation in exhibitions like “You Know Who You Are: Recent Acquisitions of Cuban Art From The Jorge M. Pérez Collection” in Florida in 2022, “Summer Days; Group Show” and “We Are Almost Free” at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Florida in 2021, and “Hey! Look Us Over II” at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Florida in 2020 showcases the extent of his contributions to the contemporary art scene. Pavel’s work has also been part of exhibitions in institutions like the Perez Art Museum Miami, the El Museo del Barrio in New York City, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, among others.

Pavel Acosta’s work has been acquired by esteemed art institutions and private collectors, including El Museo del Barrio in New York City, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, the University of Wyoming Museum of Art in Laramie, Wyoming, the Perez Art Museum (PAMM) in Miami, Florida, and the Jorge M. Perez Collection in Miami, Florida. His artistic contributions are not only recognized but also preserved for future generations in these significant collections.

Pavel Acosta Proenza’s artistic talents have been acknowledged and celebrated through numerous awards and grants. Notably, in 2018, he received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant, both of which are prestigious honors in the United States. In 2017, he was awarded the CINTAS-Knight Fellowship in Visual Arts by the CINTAS Foundation, further solidifying his status as a renowned artist. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Gutenberg Art Residency in New Jersey in 2015, and he was nominated for the Prix Pictet in the United Kingdom in 2013. His commitment to his craft and his artistic achievements are further underscored by his selection for the Artists’ Summer Institute by Creative Capital and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center in 2011. Pavel’s international reach is evident in his participation in the Three Islands Workshop/Residency in Orkneys, Scotland, the Batiscafo Residency in London, UK, and Havana, Cuba, and his CAFKA 04 Award in Kitchener, Canada, in 2004.

In addition to his institutional recognition, Acosta’s art has found its place in various private collections in Europe and the United States, a testament to the universal appeal and impact of his work.