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Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2052-3971
  • E-ISSN: 2052-398X



Ever since it first appeared in the Catalan and Castilian sections of the Spanish literary field, the poetry of C. P. Cavafy has been significantly bound up with the visual arts. The very first Spanish edition (Barcelona, 1962) of his poetry in book form, translated brilliantly into Catalan by Carles Riba, included a number of illustrations, by the recently deceased artist Josep Maria Subirachs, which attracted considerable critical attention. Even though it undoubtedly belongs to the tradition fostered by these editions, the work of artist Rogelio López Cuenca entitled Calle Cavafis (1998) represents a rather different poetics and a different political discourse. Fifteen years before the outbreak of the controversy regarding the use of Cavafy’s image and verses on Athenian means of public transport, passengers on urban buses in Malaga (Spain) saw a series of gigantic posters stuck on bus stop shelters every day for two weeks during the autumn of 1998. Combining letters, colours and illustrations, these posters reproduced poems or fragments of poems by Cavafy in Catalan or Castilian and, occasionally, even in the original Greek. Also, during the same period of time, thousands of postcards which also reproduced Cavafy’s verses were distributed and displayed in different bars and pubs all over Malaga city centre. A total number of sixteen poems found their way to these posters and postcards visually and aesthetically – and we might even say politically – (re)elaborated by Rogelio López Cuenca. Starting from this selection of poems and translations, the article proposed here aims to place Rogelio López Cuenca’s artistic intervention in the reception (different readings and uses) of Cavafy’s poetry in Spain and Latin America, and at the same time to inquire into the aesthetic and political presuppositions that inform it.


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