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Havana Gallery, Havana, Cuba

November 2000

Tribute Exhibition

General coordination: Katia Ayón and Dalia González
Texts: Yolanda Wood, Hilda Ma. Rodríguez, David Mateo
Sponsor: Gan Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.
National Council of Plastic Arts
Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center
National Union of Writers Artists of Cuba
Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets


From the same source of her power
Their wounds come from
Adrianne rich

To Belkis Ayón

We believed you to be a stone with an eternal edge,
Unconquered Legends Challenge
And we abandon ourselves to the lightning of your laughter,
To the gravity of your image.

Virtuous of labyrinths that she devoured with her hands,
Persephone without temples or diaries,
You left us only the crumbs of your cracks
And the sob of a fleeing cortege.

We thought you were a sumptuous abode of the tall word
And we entrusted ourselves to the towers that wavered your iron silhouette
We no longer listen to the whirlwind that stirred your waves,
We do not notice the mist, nor the fragility of your shadow,
And we get caught up in spasm and helplessness.

We loved you the owner of the unfathomable magic,
Of forges and bonfires
But we didn't know about your bellows
In the deep place of the unspeakable.

A single blow burst out of grief,
Anguish struck, erased the tracks
And the silence and the pain left us
Of the one who is still waiting.

Hilda Maria Rodriguez
September 1999



Once, naively, I thought I was penetrating the reserved universe of Belkis Ayón; I imagined that I could add to my curriculum of author revelations the unpublished fact that she did not know how to draw very well, and that it was her face and body that had always served as patterns for the elaboration of her images.

The moment Belkis made that unusual confession to me, which I made public in La Gaceta de Cuba, I was able to allow myself to be seduced by the gesture of deference that she herself implied; although I also came to think that it was an attitude derived from a certain carelessness, a certain presumption, in someone who was not afraid to expose her imperfections because she had already entered the sacrosanct precinct of legitimation. I convinced myself in those days that her greatest expertise was then focused on knowing how to compensate for the lack of ability to carry out a precise sketch, a meticulous drawing, with the implementation of an impeccable, refined and strict collographic procedure in each phase of her particular method, and in which the impact of the composition fell fundamentally on a series of value and color effects. To all this was added, in my opinion, the suspicion of having known how to choose within the Cuban cultural heritage a legend little addressed by the plastic arts, in whose narrative nucleus the experienced woman the most deplorable of the principles: the absolute exclusion.

By believing that I was breaking into the confidential space of Belkis Ayón's artistic production, the only thing I had actually managed to do with the appropriation of that news was timidly touch its vertices. I was not able to understand that this argument not only offered me the indispensable coordinates to unravel the devices that she used in the consummation of her works but also to be able to investigate the concerns and uncertainties that haunted her as a creator and individual.

In other words, Belkis deposits in me, as perhaps she has done in other inquirers, the necessary indications for me to commit myself to develop a much deeper investigation, which would make the retaining wall demolish once and for all, the limit that I prefixed the difference between the public valuation of her work and her personal subsistence.

Analyzing today the creation of this artist as a result of the unfortunate outcome of her life, it is presented to me in a very different way: much more humanized and visceral; stripped completely of the restraint implied by a technical concern; finally rescued from the desire to continue being legitimized as a project with a florist and almost anthropological spirit, without taking into account its purely existential foundation. I also realize that what I interpreted at the beginning as an absence of a definition, could now paradoxically become a reliable test of synthesis capacity. For if what seemed to interest her, was the use of the body as a depository model of dramatic force, it was logical to suppose that she eliminated everything superfluous, everything insignificant, in order to arrive at the scene of expression; it was enough then with a gesture, with a contortion, with a look ...

When Belkis emphasizes the Sikan conflict, she seems to want to emphasize her own conflict. The cause of one was unfolding more and more until it became the cause of the other. The fantastic passage must have been the pretext, the excuse; and recreation with the figuration of the royal road to show the traces of anguish, of dissatisfaction that no one knew how to capture and dissolve, not even the beings closest to it. Despite the fact that some of us already felt a growing contradiction between the gloomy atmosphere, the excess of adversity that her works reflected, and the peaceful and optimistic character that she showed before others; even though, in the last days of her life, we forbid a very strange struggle to appear at times behind her gaze, a force something like between disturbed and apprehensive, which she knew how to hide very well with her inscrutable smile.

David Mateo
November 2000

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