Álvarez references the Cuban practice of permuter, or exchange, in the title of this painting. In communist Cuba, houses are assigned to individuals and may not be sold, so instead, they are swapped. In Se Permuta, Álvarez comments of the great migration of contemporary Cuban artists, who exchange their provincial hometowns for the capital city of Havana. Álvarez puts a contemporary twist on Russian artist Ilya Repin’s 1873 painting, Barge Haulers on the Volga (pictured) by replacing Repin’s haulers with contemporary Cuban artists, including himself. The burden born by the artists in the painting may refer to pressures to conform at Cuban art schools, where students are instructed to emulate traditionally rendered paintings like Barge Haulers that reflect communist ideals.
signed "Franklin" and "1998-02" LR