Velázquez Leyva, Ridael

Born of humble origins in the small Cuban village of La Viuda in 1977, Ridael (pronounced Ree-dy-‘el) began to draw at the third grade. He entered the Professional School of Art in Holguín at age 14, but did not complete his studies as he entered the ministry.

During the next few years he married (Odelmis) and had two children (Redilito and Erika) while serving congregations in several churches. The family eventually settled in Aguada La Piedra, near Guardalavaca on the north-east coast, where they worked at building a new Pentecostal church and congregation. When the church split in 2016, Ridael turned to making art again as a way to recover his spirits and his health.

He continues to live modestly and work with limited resources, seeking to express his deep spiritual and familial feelings in his painting.