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  • Entrevistas | Belkis Ayón

    INTERVIEWS Talk about the myths of art. Interview with Belkis Ayón Jaime Sarusky ​ February 4, 1999 To tell the truth, it was not easy to interview Belkis Ayón, despite appearances, that is, his youth, the recognition that his artistic work has had, his personality, that one would bet very accessible, frank and open as his laugh. But do not confuse such attributes with the vehemence, I would say even the passion, of the creator Belkis Ayón, the one who with steely lucidity knows the paths of yesterday and today of her work. And I'm sure tomorrow too. But his humility and pride, traits that coexist in many authentic artists, prevent him from sanctioning such a prognosis. Although in his heart every great artist knows that it is, the challenge to time is raised and time, in turn, challenges it. Time, for better or for worse, can do everything, except with the great art that resists it, transcends it and walks by its side with an ironic smile ... READ MRE In irregular confidence David Mateo ​ March 4, 1997 ... “It seems that your work aspires to become universal, I tell him, as he hands me a group of matrices on a small table in his apartment in Alamar. The first one represents a fish woman, beginning in the spiritual world of one between two Jicoteas women; but the poetic atmosphere that the relationship between each one of them acquires is so moving that the allegory of the Abakuá legend and its particularly liturgical iconography almost seems to diminish; I had already noticed something similar with the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in one of the winning works at the Maastrich International Biennial ... READ MORE

  • Eva sale y remonta vuelo... | Belkis Ayón

    EVA LEAVES AND TAKES FLIGHT. EVA CEASES BEING A RIB Havana, Cuba. October 13, 2014 As part of the visual arts event Ellas Crean , sponsored by the Embassy of Spain in Cuba, it was inaugurated in October 2014, the exhibition Eva leaves and takes flight, Eva ceases being a rib, with the curatorship of Gabriela García Azcuy. This exhibition shows the works of five outstanding women in the world of Cuban visual arts: Aimeé García, Belkis Ayón, Cirenaica Moreira, Rocío García and Sandra Ramos; which despite having begun their struggle for the plastic arts in the late 80's of the last century, have maintained, in the words of the curator, that "female protagonism, which twenty-five years later, remains in the art scene of the Island like an already stainless spring". Participating artists: Aimeé García, Belkis Ayón, Cirenaica Moreira, Rocío García, Sandra Ramos.

  • aglutinados | Belkis Ayón

    BONDED BETWEEN THE ESOTERIC AND MANIC ART October 6, 2014 Cecilia Crespo © OnCuba Magazine Under the title of Witches, but also Warlocks, the Aglutinador space and the Maniac Art Museum these days exhibit a sui generis exhibition that blends art with rites and religious beliefs from different parts of the planet. Celebrating its twenty years, this space for creation and exhibition directed by the artist Sandra Ceballos, brought together nearly fifty people in this exhibition where spirits, amulets, orishas, paranormal events, and energy are the protagonists. Artists, esoterics, astrologers, researchers, healers, ritualists, believers, practitioners, mystics, both Cuban and foreign, invoke magic, sensuality, and spirituality through various techniques, styles, textures, genres, and both conventional and experimental expressive possibilities. The show, made up of 38 works, can be seen until the end of this month in the colonial house of Alfredo Ramos, on Línea106, permanent headquarters of the Museum of Maniac Art in Havana. Sandra Ceballos told OnCuba that the exhibition is not about showing religious or folk art. The artistic intention is to excavate in the enigmatic presence of the "Eggun or dead as the matrix of all clandestine psychophysical phenomena, legitimize and qualify precisely those intelligent energies that do not sin as egocentric and that are possibly more authentic and spontaneous than the material world." “Defend their spokesmen, historically discriminated against and repressed by 'science'. To investigate the 'vaporous intervention' of spirits in life, that is the objective" she added. Bruges ... puts an extensive catalog for the consideration of disbelievers and faithful, impossible to visualize and enjoy all at once. It has works by renowned intellectuals and artists such as the researcher Natalia Bolívar, who exhibited her voodoo dolls in a glass case called "Five Spirits." You can see an installation with ashes of human corpses, by Iván Perera, from his series Immanents. Digital impressions of Álvaro José Brunet, Susan Bank, Rodney Batista also join the show together with works by Javier Alejandro Bobadilla Díaz, José Bedia and Juan Francisco Elso Padilla. A video installation by Tania Bruguera is exhibited that records the petition to the Pope to support the immigrant and undocumented community to apply for the 2014 Vatican City citizenship. You can also see an interesting photograph of the Colón Cemetery, in silver on gelatin, by Pedro Abascal from 1983. From Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, recognized for addressing religious themes in his work, there is a large-format card: "Evil entered him from below." A video-projection of Marta María Pérez Bravo is included, one of the most spiritual pieces, without a doubt. The installation "EPD" by José Ángel Vincench: gold dust on sheets and candles and a painting from the 2010 Manuel Mendive National Prize for Plastic Arts, are other main attractions of the selection. The Canadian duo The Fastwurms (Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse), with their medieval witch costumes, including a conical hat, arrived with their "Love is Law" installation of varying dimensions: a large spider web made of black bras. Also memorable is “Incompetent King” by Hugo Consuegra, ink and pen on cardboard (1959), and Roberto Diago's work, “Motivo de bosque”, a mixed technique on masonite from 1993, of great vitality and expression as much of his work. Espacio Aglutinador will continue to exhibit genuine and transgressive art as an “emergency room” and autonomous plaza for the promotion and development of Visual Arts, as its founder explains: “This exhibition gives continuity to the work of our non-exclusive space to disseminate the witchcraft of the world, from the dawn of humanity to the present day, passing through the traditions, religions, spells, enchantments, and philosophies of various places and historical moments. As has already been demonstrated on other occasions, Aglutinador is always renewing itself to create alternative projects to its alternativeness ”, concluded Sandra. PREVIOUS NEWS NEXT NEWS

  • nkame arizona | Belkis Ayón

    NKAME: A RETROSPECTIVE OF THE CUBAN PRINTMAKER BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999) Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona, United States October 13, 2018 - January 20, 2019 The traveling exhibition Nkame: a Retrospective of the Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) was inaugurated on October 13, 2018, at its fifth venue, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. A project organized by this prestigious institution and the Belkis Ayón Estate, Havana Cuba. The exhibition is curated by Cristina Vives. Exhibition Tour Management by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. Photographs: Courtesy of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art For more information, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art website

  • III Edición CNCBA | Belkis Ayón

    III National Collography Contest Belkis Ayón ANNOUNCEMENT The National Council of Plastic Arts, the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), and the Graphic Society of Cienfuegos, in coordination with the Estate of Belkis Ayón, the Provincial Council of Plastic Arts, the Provincial Committee of the UNEAC, The Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets, the Paradiso Cultural Agency and ARTEX of the Cienfuegos province, summon all interested artists to participate in the Belkis Ayón National Coloring Contest, in homage to one of the Cuban artists who marked, with her graphic work and pedagogical, a milestone in the history of Engraving in Cuba. ​ Basis of Participation All Cuban students and artists with engravings made in the COLLOGRAPHY technique, printed between 2014 and 2015, who have not participated in a previous exhibition, event, or contest, may participate. ​ Inscription The works must be sent unframed, through certified mail or in person, before March 10, 2015, to the Sociedad Gráfica de Cienfuegos, located at Ave. 50, # 2326, between Calle 23 and Calle 25, Cienfuegos 1 , Hundred fires. Tel. 043 517979. Each artist will have the right to present three works (independent or triptych) duly signed and numbered in pencil, which cannot exceed 60 x 80 cm (paper measurements). Workshops or artists' tests are not accepted. ​ Selection A single Jury will be appointed to select and award the works received. The selected and awarded works will be exhibited in the Cienfuegos Art Gallery, within the program of the 9th La Estampa Fair, an event that will be inaugurated on April 7, 2015, at 9 p.m., at which time it will be officially the jury's decision. The exhibition will remain open to the public for 30 days. Likewise, it will be presented at the Casa del Benemérito de las Américas Benito Juárez of the Office of the City Historian, Havana, in 2015. The selected artists will be given the Certificate of Participation once the exhibition is over, along with the return of their works within 45 days. The organizers of the contest are responsible for the care of the works sent, running with all the expenses generated by the return of the same to their authors. ​ Prize A single and indivisible Grand Prize will be awarded consisting of 3 000.00 MN (donation of the artists belonging to the Taller de la Sociedad Gráfica de Cienfuegos and the Estate of Belkis Ayón), a diploma and a reproduction of a work by the artist to which the contest is dedicated. The Jury will award mentions at its discretion, without a financial award. The Jury's decision will be final. The winning works will become part of the Cienfuegos Stamp Cabinet. The awarded Artist will be invited to perform a personal exhibition at the Cienfuegos Art Center in 2017. The Belkis Ayón Residence, awarded to the award-winning artists, will run for a week; During this period, they will share experiences with prominent artists of contemporary Cuban plastic and engraving. Participating in the II Belkis Ayón National Coloring Contest implies acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. ​ More information Organizing Committee of the Belkis Ayón National Coloring Contest GRAPHIC SOCIETY OF CIENFUEGOS caceres69@azurina.cult.cu | 043 517979 ESTATE OF BELKIS AYÓN, HAVANA belkat@cubarte.cult.cu | 07 642 3083 www.ayonbelkis.cult.cu | www.ayonbelkis.co Jury Awards Members of the Jury of the III National Collography Contest Belkis Ayón. Cienfuegos, 2017. Events and Exhibitions III National Collography Contest Belkis Ayon Cienfuegos, 2017 Selected works and Exhibition Muestra Concurso Collateral Exhibitions

  • Ajiaco | Belkis Ayón

    AJIACO: STIRRINGS OF THE CUBAN SOUL Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut, United States ​ ​ September 12, 2009 - February 21, 2010 In 1939 Fernando Ortiz first characterized Cuban culture as Ajiaco : a rich stew consisting of a large variety of ingredients cooked until a thick broth is formed. It is this synthesis of the essence of Cuban art. It embraces and visualizes the very nature of the Cuban soul and reveals the depth of its expression. This is the subject of Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban soul. The art incorporates the tales of the Orisha of Africa, the calligraphy of the Tao Te Ching, and the rituals of indigenous peoples. The formats change, the materials vary, but the syncretist mix remains constant in Cuban and Cuban American art. The stew becomes thicker as the syncretism evolves into a Post Modern discourse. In the contemporary artworks, the artist has felt motivated, by necessity, to appropriate from history and everyday life. We find in the art an amalgam of forms and images ranging from Pop culture to the Byzantine, and high art to low art, using found materials and precious objects. The curator writes, "Isolated and yet educated, restricted and yet heralded, the Cuban artist embodies the angst of their situation and yet embraces the loftiest of goals. Their syncretist tradition and heritage allow them to go beyond the monotheistic traditions in order to find the origins of their soul, the geist or inner spirit of their art. " ​ Gail Gelburd, Ph. D., curator of this project, has been conducting research on Cuban art and artists for over 15 years. She has regularly traveled to Cuba and has lectured for the Havana Biennale, Havana University, and in the Casa Africa in Cuba. She has also lectured about the intersection of art, politics, and spirituality in Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Australia, England, and Wales, and at such major institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and for Williams College and the Chicago Art Institute. Gelburd has received numerous grants and awards, including a Rockefeller Foundation grant to conduct research on Cuban art, and is publishing a book on Contemporary Cuban art. The article "Beyond the Hype: Cuban art" appeared in Reconstruction: Issues in Contemporary Culture in Winter 2008 and another article "Cuba: The Art of Trading with the Enemy" appears in Art Journal in Spring 2009. ​ Participating artists: Alejandro Aguilera, Belkis Ayón, Luis Cruz Azaceta, José Bedia, Juan Boza, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Nelson Domínguez, Juan Francisco Elso, Carlos Estévez, Flora Fong, Joel Jover, Wifredo Lam, Laura Luna, Ana Mendieta, Manuel Mendive, Clara Morera, Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Sandra Ramos, Lázaro Saavedra, Tomas Sánchez, Esterio Segura, Cepp Selgas, Leandro Soto, Elio Vilva.

  • Torres y Tumbas | Belkis Ayón

    TOWERS AND TOMBS Estudio Figueroa-Vives / Norwegian Embassy, ​​El Vedado, Havana, Cuba ​ September - November, 2019 On September 11, 2019, the exhibition Towers and Tombs in homage to the 20th Anniversary of the death of Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) were inaugurated at the Figueroa-Vives Studio / Norwegian Embassy. Also dedicated to her sister, Dr. Katia Ayón (1964-2019) who worked tirelessly and successfully in the promotion and conservation of her sister's artistic legacy through the Belkis Ayón Estate. The exhibition presents "an unsuspected parallel between historical moments, lives and aesthetics", which come together on the date of 09/11, unveiling through works and matrices of the outstanding Cuban printmaker alongside the photographic work of Janis Lewin (USA) and José A. Figueroa (Cuba). ​ Press coverage https://rialta.org/el-11-de-seipt-de-belkis-ayon-por-el-estudio-figueroa-vives/ ​

  • propuesta a los 20 años | Belkis Ayón

    PROPOSAL AT AGE 20 ​ Belkis Ayón and Isary Paulet ​ Servando Cabrera Moreno Art Gallery December, 1988 PIECE FOR FLUTE AND CLARINET We are simply between two worlds, where fantasy, where THE FABULOUS, have the floor. If for a moment we put aside the virtuosity of the printmaker, which are everywhere here, and evade a certain illustrative character, not because these things are despicable, but because she wanted to bring them to the center of her expression, then we would have to face a message directly poetic, based on harmony, on a lyricism that plays with reasons and beautician desires, which make a delicate piece for flute and clarinet from the vision of reality. Everything unfolds like the scenery of a story: in Isary, the characters, like crazy pixies, are distributed following the whims of the kaleidoscope, playing, I believe, the role of the only saviors of a world that increasingly needs and wishes the arrival of some representative of the magical world capable of transforming it into something else. Spielberg? Neo-infantilism? Like Isary, Belkis works with mystery in her work, drawn from such perfect configurations, of colors so peacefully pleasing, that they arouse unease. But suddenly one has the feeling that we are only facing an idealization, too much tenderness, almost in a peaceful reverie, in that unreal film that cannot continue, that cannot be, that one more moment and explodes. It may be that neither of the two interpretations is exact, it does not matter, they are only the style that fits for these expressive centers, surrounded by the deployment of an arsenal of irreproachable techniques and invoices. Because some could stay there, in the resplendent quality of the finish of their products. That finish is nothing more than the superficial of the art of these charming. The elements are well managed by the magician to integrate them into the illusion. Then the feeling is presented in the force of a very own saying in each case that in Isary and Belkis, in their proposals, they have the presentation of a meticulous structure, many times thought and calculated, destined to transmit security or very security purified that it becomes practically brittle. Aldo Menendez ​ (Text for the exhibition catalog)

  • Hablar de los mitos del arte. Sarusky | Belkis Ayón

    Talk about the myths of art. Interview with Belkis Ayón ​ Jaime Sarusky February 4, 1999 © Revolución y Cultura, No 2-3 / 99, p. 68-71 ​ To tell the truth, it was not easy to interview Belkis Ayón, despite appearances, that is, his youth, the recognition that his artistic work has had, his personality, that one would bet very accessible, frank and open as his laugh. But do not confuse such attributes with the vehemence, I would say even the passion, of the creator Belkis Ayón, the one who with steely lucidity knows the paths of yesterday and today of her work. And I'm sure tomorrow too. But his humility and pride, traits that coexist in many authentic artists, prevent him from sanctioning such a prognosis. Although in his heart every great artist knows that it is, the challenge to time is raised and time, in turn, challenges it. Time, for better or for worse, can do everything, except with the great art that resists it, transcends it and walks by its side with an ironic smile. We are in front of his mural La Cena that is in the Ludwig Foundation. It is a tenaciously mysterious piece. I would not hesitate to say that it has many readings. But tell me your story ​ La Cena was first seen in public in 1988 at the Servando Cabrera de Playa gallery. I conceived it to print in color but once it was printed and displayed I was not satisfied with the results. So I dedicated myself to preparing it for my graduate thesis and in 1991 I modified it and took it to black and white. The first figure, top left, has his face covered with his hands. The main idea is from Dinner ... ​ Are you referring to the traditional dinner? Yes, but as a main idea. And I had in mind for a long time. Dinner is for women, except for two men, one who is on the right, the black figure who is completely indifferent, as if he is going to leave the composition, and another who has a black face. What are the elements of mythology present there? One of them is the background. It is made with the Anaforuanas or “signatures”: the cross, the circle and the cross within the circle, symbolism of the different branches that influenced or where the myth arose as such this type of societies, efik, efor and ori bibi. The + sign corresponds to efik, the O efor and oru-bibi. Another element that I use is the scale. The fish's scale, the sacred fish. And also the type of symbology that I have taken to mean the man with the leopard skin, which is a concentric circle, a little elongated with various points around it. And, in addition, figures that have a design that suggests a relationship with femininity. ​ ​ And the bandage? When someone who is in the process of being initiated is going to enter the sacred room, the Fambá, before entering it, they are blindfolded. It's like a kind of ceremonial dinner. There is a figure that is starting or about to start. What is celebrated with this ritual? In this case it is something that perhaps existed. But it is not something that happens. From the point of view of the religious ceremony there is a part that is food, but it has nothing to do with this idea of ​​dinner. This is totally symbolic. ​ Another figure has a snake around his neck. In Abakuá mythology, it is the animal sent by the tribe's sorcerer to find out what had happened in the river when the Tanze fish disappeared. Then the Nasakó sends two snakes to see what has happened. And on the way back they appear to him and surprise Sikán, who gets scared and drops the güiro that he was carrying on his head. That is why the snake is always a company for her. It can be threatening, it can be preventive, or it can simply be companionship. And depending on the idea I also use it as a phallic element. Now why the scales and the significance of the fish? The fish was the way, the vehicle that contained the secret, that is, it was the being that contained the secret. The secret was a voice. Here it is no longer fish on that plate. No, not anymore, because this figure, that of the man with the black head, kind of broke into the women's dinner and ingested the fish. His plate is already empty, as is the gourd that accompanies each of the figures next to the plate. The fish is the sacred being. In this women's dinner, two figures wear the skin of the fish, thus relating the fate of the fish with the fate that Sikán will have or had. It is assumed that among the Abakuá women do not play any role, they are out of that world. Anyone could think that his is a daring because he is transgressing what is taboo. It is out from the point of view of professing religion. But it is inside, deep inside, because it was a woman who discovered the secret. And from that discovery is that, somehow, all this kind of story arises. What was the secret? The secret was the voice. According to the myth, appropriating that fish that contained the voice meant that whoever reached it would be the richest and most prosperous tribe. It was power. In reality the fish was the reincarnation of an old king who predicted such events. The guilt of the woman when she discovered the secret eliminated her from the rituals of the Abakuá universe. Yes, and I also think that, like all these stories of myths and legends, there are different versions. One of them maintains that the woman is excluded for having given information to the enemy tribe. But I think that it is not necessary for a viewer to have knowledge of the myths, the Abakuá ritual or the meanings of each of its components to admire or be impressed by his work. ​ The thing would be to know why it impresses ... What does that engraving have? First of all, the mystery. These apparently passive characters convey an atmosphere of tension, of suspicion. Strange diners who are also symbols. There is a sense of uncertainty due to the weight of the allegorical. It would seem that they challenge us, by the very scene presented by these disconcerting protagonists, to go back to the mists of the early days. There they are, simultaneously, the myth and the complex human matter; they transcend time and if by chance I saw that work years ago and I see it again now, I still think that it comes to me as something telluric, unfathomable. I think about these things at the moment when I am doing them. After I print them and it has been so long, like it is no longer mine and I stop thinking about it. Now I was thinking about tension, as something that is contained, where something happened or is going to happen. Something like that. And the eyes on your characters? Actually the eyes in my work is what impresses people, what intrigues them because they are eyes that look at you very directly, so I think you cannot hide, wherever you move they are always there looking at you, they are there making you an accomplice of what you are seeing. And, above all, in these pieces that are large, you are almost at the same level, at the same size, it is someone with whom you are living there in some way. The fact of being characters that do not have a defined face is helping to feed the myth and the symbol. There is no detail that places them in a historical context: they have no clothes or hairstyle. From those clothes or from that hairstyle it could be deduced that they are characters of this or more than that moment. When you conceive these characters — let's call them somehow — you are not thinking of an anecdote, at a certain moment, but you are simply thinking of an episode of the Abakuá universe that you want to represent ... Yes, I think it is the latter to which you refer and also a little more, there is always something else. I really enjoy the fact of working, of filling the characters with something, that is, through the textures, the shapes, not being devoid of clothes. Clothes are the skin that I put on depending on what is happening, on what I want to say. For example, the scales. As I had told you before, it is the skin of a fish and for many people it can also be the skin of a snake. I mean, there is all that ambiguity. Now, how did he enter, how could he appropriate the knowledge of the Abakuá world? It was out of curiosity, to face something that one reads, talks about or sees for the first time. It is not what one is used to and feels that it attracts them and begins to investigate, to seek information. And his father? It is not Abakuá. And in my family no one is, except a cousin. It is important that I say so because stories have been made up that all the men in my family are Abakuá. Not at all. We are two sisters, nothing more. For what reason does it reach you with such force that it becomes the subject, the subject of your artistic work? That interest arose when I was studying engraving at San Alejandro. There were so many things that attracted me to Afro-Cuban cultures; my taste for going to rumba Saturdays and when the National Folk Ensemble had its seasons at the Mella Theater. Also the magazine The UNESCO Courier. At school I was very interested in the numbers that had to do with African culture. In my grandmother's house there was a poster with some items announcing the performances given by Folklorico and Sara Gómez's film, In a certain way. It could also have been the fact that my uncle had among his books, that he could see and leaf through all the time, Los Ñáñigos, by Enrique Sosa, or some suggestions that my teachers from San Alejandro made to me to read The Abakuá Secret Society narrated by its old followers, by Lydia Cabrera, or The African Diaspora, and a bit of all that. Or a catalog that my father gave me from a retrospective they made in Paris of Lam's painting. These things I simplify. I discovered that there were no artists working on this theme at that time, but others such as Santeria, voodoo, spiritism and palo monte. The reading of different stories of the myth also influenced. It seemed so plastic to me, as if it were passing in front of me, where faces appeared and disappeared. Also, there is no figurative iconography, except, of course, the signatures. Then I saw that there was a possibility, there was a whole world that I could perfectly create, from the fact that you already know what stories are like. How do you explain that those characters without faces have such intensity, such density? There are things in the works that one cannot explain oneself. The tension ... I did not think of it, it was not something preconceived. He left. I say that something always accompanies me that is like a good sign, a good company: intuition. Perhaps my work is that: they are things that I have inside and that I throw out because they are burdens that cannot be lived with and cannot be dragged. Could it be said that you detach yourself, in the same creative process, from many of these myths? I detach myself; and not because I think that always, even if I want to say something else, I am using the same symbology and the same figuration and the same signs that I use when I want to refer specifically to a scene or a detail that is, strictly, from mythology, although later, perhaps, he will turn it over and want to say something else. But they are fixed elements in my work. Right now I'm using more personal things; however, I continue to use the character of Sikán, the fish, the goat, the scales, the snake, I continue to use crumpled papers and the symbols that I have always used in another situation, but with other content. I use colography because it seems to me the most appropriate technique to say what I want. That is first. In addition, it is the technique with which I can work large formats, whatever I want, and I like the manufacturing of the piece, it fascinates me. So all that process I enjoy tremendously. It is one of the reasons why he continues to do collography. If I painted would it be the same? No, it wouldn't be the same. It is that I do not have in my mind to conceive this for painting. It is a limitation that I have in the eyes of many. But, above all things, I consider myself a tape recorder. And I'm not going to stop being one for the moment. Do you think that the most important thing you had to express as an artist has already been said in your work or do you think that you have not yet exhausted all its possibilities? Those are questions that I ask myself all the time. Once, in conversation with my friend Antonio Martorell, a Puerto Rican printmaker and painter, he told me: it is incredible how one becomes obsessed with certain subjects, and even if one does it differently, that is always there. In other words, obsession and turning around and falling into the same thing. And I wondered if he was repeating myself. Just imagine. Maybe, yes, maybe, no. The problem is that I feel that there are many people who are very simple when it comes to talking about an artist and a production. It is much easier to say: Ah, look, she works on the abakuá! It's fine, but there's not much more to it than that . ​ And since he speaks of obsession in the themes, just the same thing can happen to a viewer with his characters. They are and they are not, as you say. And they are characters who are saying things to me or are questioning me ... Exactly. I think that's what they are questioning. Interrogating others. A little that others are accomplices of what is happening there. As if they said: Here things are not clear. It is a disturbing situation. The title of my last exhibition, which was shown in Los Angeles, was Restlessness. Maybe that's the play. After so many years I realize the uneasiness. And perhaps that restlessness, as much or more than a religious character, has ... I'm going to tell you, it is more existential than religious. How were your beginnings since you studied at San Alejandro? I was sixteen years old in 83-84 when I was studying at San Alejandro and I had enormous problems with drawing, when the teachers suspended me a lot because I was a very bad draftsman with a model. And my figures looked like sticks. How did you get over that? More than drawing, thinking. And watching a lot and looking a lot. Many times I talk to my students who also work figuratively and have drawing problems. I tell them: look, I am not asking you for an academy, I am not asking you for hyper-realism, I ask you to convince me with what you are putting there. That that hand is credible, perhaps a little more, a little less, but that there is no disproportion, that it does not bother the eye. One of the characteristics that distinguishes his work is the absence of color. Does the use of white or black have a meaning? White is a value. Like black. Like the grays. The value is not the color, the value is the point of attention in the work. A figure because it is white, it is not white. A figure is white because it is a point of attention and because I work with white, black and values. That person may be black, but the value is white. In other words, it has a compositional sense. Exactly. Like this black man who makes a turn; the black goes there, in the serpent, in the face, in this eye and goes up to the other eyes that are inverted, returns to the black eye and goes to the black of the edge. The inclusion of black is a problem of composition, balance and rhythm in the piece. What is your relationship with the Abakuá universe: affective, cognitive? A difficult question. It is the way, the way, the solution that I found to say what I wanted. And I tell him: it is like letting go, and I have let myself go. When you go to work on this issue, at some point do you not do it like in a trance state? In a trance, but in quotes. The phenomenon is one of concentration, a problem of believing at the moment that I am doing it, even perhaps of acting. There is a bit of theatricality in all that ... Yes, it is very theatrical, like the ceremony of the Abakuá. For Fernando Ortiz it was like a theatrical performance. It is like bringing theater to religion. And religion to the theater. As for the trance, it is, above all, the concentration and the forced foot that they put me when working. In addition to the passion for the subject, the very fact of having been working on it for many years, does it not somehow reflect a fear on your part? That is, to stay conservatively in it because it does not initiate or face other subjects. Ah, look, maybe that's it. Of course, unconscious fear. I believe that there are unconscious things that become conscious. In your case, does it become conscious? I think so. I think that one can say things like that, and in another way. But I want to keep it that way. For now, because this is what I need to say. One of its characteristics is originality. I take from a million things. What I see that I like, I do. There is a whole screening process. I think this is like my son, this is something that I created. If I created it, I don't have to abandon it if I still have things to say. Well, forgive me, but you can have a child and then have another without necessarily abandoning the first. Ah well, for now I sit with only one! —Suddenly, when you get up in the morning, you say to yourself, I'm going to work today, do you already know what you're going to do? No. Until I have it here (he puts his index finger to his temple), I don't do anything. While that is happening I am looking at my books, the books that I buy, that I like, that are art. And as I go through them I say to myself, I like this composition, here I am going to put Fulano, Mengano and Ciclano. And this has to do with it, I want to talk about dissatisfaction, intolerance, I want to talk about betrayal or I want to talk about sacrifices. Many compositions I take, for example, from the family. The Family was a piece that had long been crushed on his head. I used to say, this has to come out somewhere. And it all came from the work of Gauguin Ana la Javanesa. That I love it; That is very important to me, that it marked me ... And the family comes out of that work, of that figure sitting so calmly. You have said that among your plastic references, in addition to those of the Abakuá universe, there were also Byzantine icons. The reference of the icons is purely formal. It is the shape of the arches, of the altarpieces, they always attracted me a lot and it was like inventing an iconography for these people. And also many times the compositions that I like so much. And I tell him that my work is the one that surprises me because it is the one that has led me to be what I am, not because I proposed it. Could it be that there is a certain ignorance of yourself, of who you are? If it is accepted that your characters, in addition to being disturbing, are defiant, one has every right to suppose that there is a struggle in you, between the Belkis that you want to challenge and the other that you knew is calm and that you want to go unnoticed. I think I'm out there. Is the fact that you are a woman and black reflecting your challenging characters in any way? Not at all, or at least, I don't intend to. It's just that I've never had a racial problem, you understand? Let me explain. I know that she has not had problems, on the contrary, anyone who sees her would say that she is a winner. But both you and I know ... I think these are things that are manipulated a lot and maybe they manipulate us or manipulate me. But it is not a conscious thing. In your work each signature is based on the idea that you are raising. That's how it is. Even in a work there may be different signatures but depending on the characters or their relationship with others. Yes. You start from the Abakuá myths as a source of your creative production, but the result, the work of art as such, is already something else, it transcends the reasons that originated it to become universal. It can be given more than one interpretation, even a connoisseur is impressed, not because of the mastery he may have of the matter but because of the indisputable artistic result. I really like the subtle things in the work, but also that the viewer is awake enough to discover them. BACK TO INTERVIEWS next article

  • sao paulo biennal | Belkis Ayón

    Belkis Ayón at th e 34th São Paulo Biennal Although is dark, I still sign Diseño para el catálogo de la 34 Bienal de São Paulo y algunas obras incluidas en la exposición principal July 5, 2021 Isachi Durruthy Peñalver © Belkis Ayón Estate ​The 34th edition of the Sao Paulo Biennial will feature the work of Belkis Ayón (Havana 1967-1999). The event, one of the most prestigious in the world and an indisputable reference for the art of our continent, will host 16 works by the renowned Cuban artist. In total 14 prints, one of them, large format, and two matrices, also large format, will be exhibited from September 4 to December 5, 2021, at the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, located in Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Belkis Ayón traced a renovating path for Latin American printmaking. Her peculiar aesthetic discourse grounded in the traditions of the Abakuá culture, her outstanding mastery of the collography technique, and her prolific work as a pedagogue made her one of the most prominent figures of 20th-century Cuban art. This is the first time that her work has been invited to participate in this notorious event, conceived as a polyphony of voices and points of view on contemporary artistic production. The 34th Biennial entitled Faz escuro mas eu canto [Although it's dark, I still sing] affirms the right to complexity and opacity, in expressions of art and culture, as well as in the identities of individuals and social groups, with a representation of 91 artists from 39 countries. The curatorial team is form by of Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, Paulo Miyada, Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez. The Cicillio Matarazzo, former Palace of Industry, also known as the Biennial Pavilion, is part of the original Ibirapuera Park complex in Sao Paulo and was designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. ​ For more information on the 34th Sao Paulo Biennial visit HERE the official page NEXT NEWS

  • renderings | Belkis Ayón

    RENDERINGS: NEW NARRATIVES AND REINTERPRETATIONS Mechanical Hall at Delawere University, Philadelphia, United States September 3 - 30, 2014 In September 2014, the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, opened to the public in the Mechanical Hall Gallery of the University of Delawere, an exhibition of works in paper from its archives and of invited artists for the exhibition, under the title: Renderings. New Narratives and Reinterpretations, curated by Dr. Cheryl Finley. In it, works by 26 artists from different nationalities were presented, among which were the Cuban printmakers Belkis Ayón and Ibrahim Miranda, all representatives of the art of the African diaspora. Participating artists: Terry Adkins, Maya Freelon Asante, Belkis Ayon, Camille Billops, Jamal Cyrus, Andrea Chung, Letitia Huckaby, Sedrick Huckaby, Curlee Raven Holton, Valerie Maynard, Paul F. Keene, Ibrahim Miranda, Ayanah Moor, Howardena Pindell, Michael B. Platt, Faith Ringgold, Robert Pruitt, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Juan Sanchez, John T. Scott, Clarissa Sligh, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Janet Taylor-Pickett, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Willis.

  • Personales2 | Belkis Ayón

    SOLO EXHIBITIONS Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles, California, United States ​ March 10, 1998 ​ Desasosiego / Restlessness Read more Church of St. Barbara, Breining, Germany ​ November 7, 1995 Unterstütze mich, halte mich hoch, im Schmerz. Belkis Ayón / Hold me in pain Read more Servando Cabrera Moreno Art Gallery ​ December, 1988 ​ Proposal at age 20 ​ Read more return to personal exhibitions

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