Danilo Maldonado Machado, EL SEXTO (The Sixth)
El Sexto is currently the most persecuted of Cuban artists. The political police have arrested him multiple times just to prevent him from creating his art on the walls of Havana. They have invaded his home and seized his artwork and cans of spray paint without any legal order and without filing charges. On more than one occasion they have ripped off his clothes, right in the street, to destroy his works, which honor recent Cuban political martyrs such as Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. In response, El Sexto tattooed their images on his skin so that no one could erase them. He is committed to “bad-painting” and to the many technical innovations he thinks up. He loves throwing flyers out to crowds, as well as modifying the Revolutionary slogans on official posters and traffic signs.
Technician in Crafts degree (2002). Lives in Havana, Cuba.
No son Cinco (They aren’t Five). Havana, 2011.
Dos456 Space. Havana 2001. (Closed by the political police at its opening.)
Este año quemaré dos muñecos viejos. (This year two old doll will burn up.) Havana, 2012.
Cinco años de vida artística / arte inútil. (Five years of artistic life / useless art.) Havana, 2013
Excerpts from: EL SEXTO, HAVANA UNDER SPRAY PAINT by Yoani Sanchez
His nickname is inherently sarcastic and alludes to the government’s campaign for the release of the five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States. Danilo Maldonado—his given name seemingly lifted out of a soap opera—prefers to call himself “El Sexto” (the Sixth), to demand his release as well, although his is not a physical prison but rather an enormous enclosure without rights. While graffiti has come and gone in many cities, Havanans peer with fresh eyes at the vertigo of his polysemy, caught between enchantment and disgust at its appearance.
The master par excellence of this art is among us, the lanky young man known as El Sexto, author of more than one irreverent graphic and even some leaflets on which he launches phrases resembling fragments of hip-hop songs. “I´m everywhere…” he cries to us from a scrap of paper. After spreading such a message the police see graffiti artists all around them, suspecting even a toddler could be carrying a spray can in his stroller.
Before El Sexto there was an anonymous presence, hidden, daubing paint on any space; now they know his name, his address, his identity card number. He has been converted into paint-enemy number one and the punishment they’ll probably inflict will distance him from the walls, the spray cans, from those late Havana nights when his delicate hand adds color to a faded city. Read More.