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 (known as “Farmers Village” to many Canadians) near Guardalavaca on the north-east coast, where they worked at building a new Pentecostal church and congregation. The church started with only 10 members and then grew over eight years to 120 members. When the church split in 2016, Ridael found it very painful and took a sabbatical as a way to recover his spirits and his health. It was during this time that he began to paint again.

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

Artist Statement:

I was called in the third year of art school to go into the ministry and to give my life and service to Jesus and God’s work. But the passion I had from when I was very small to paint has never disappeared. I like to paint the landscape and marine pictures, also the human figure, still-life (nature morte) and fruits – I don’t like to stay in one genre. The most important thing about my painting is to make use of the passion and share it. But only if God wants, so that I can sell my works and use the money and help others and my family that God has blessed me with. I like to help the people. I believe that God gave me this talent for a purpose. I want to do it but the whole result is in the hands of God. Whatever comes I think I will continue painting.