Carlos Barberena at Efebinás Café

The work of Nicaraguan artist Carlos Barberena is as accessible as it is jarring. Censored in his home country and displayed in many others, the Oak Park émigré is bringing his perspective to Pilsen. The show “Imágines de Denuncia” will hang in Efebinás Café through January 31.

If you go to see this collection, kick it off as God intended by first getting one of the most rippin’ empanadas you may ever eat. As for the art, Barberena’s work reveals an insistent worldview forged by witnessing some real-ass life. Part of this show is his series “Años de Miedo,” a group of linoleum-cut pressings reflecting life during the revolution. Of particularly interesting note among the stark images is his use of arrows to depict censorship. It made me reconsider what exactly censorship is. More than a silencing of an opinion, it is a redirection to an alternate, official message.

The other pieces are stylistically similar but substantially different. He utilizes Santa Muerte-type iconography and corporate logos to provoke and assert. Protests over Flor de Caña’s worker safety concerns and environmental abuse are hard to miss. His skill is on full display on a few pieces, such as a send-up of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, but most make restrained use of his expertise. All are evocative. All communicate.

We highly recommend catching this show before it leaves this quaint café.

See more of his work at

Efebina’s Cafe
1640 South Blue Island Avenue, Chicago, IL

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