Belkis Ayón, Behind the Myth
In conjunction with the exhibition Belkis Ayón. Collographs (17 November 2021 – 18 April 2022), the Museo organises a tour through the show and a conversation with its curator Cristina Vives and Cuban artists Alexandre Arrechea and Luis Cabrera, both closely related to the figure of Ayón. The activity explores the artist’s short yet intensive career, shaped by plastic investigations around the Afro-Cuban secret society Abakuá, the development of collography – an unusual printmaking technique developed by Ayón to create a unique artistic language — and the artistic and socio-cultural context of 1990s Cuba.
The ritual and beliefs of the Abakuá brotherhood served as inspiration for the artist to create a distinctive language capable of expressing topical issues — censorship, violence, exclusion, intolerance, control mechanisms and power structures — at a time of profound crisis in Cuba caused by the fall of the iron curation and the collapse of socialism in Europe. This is in addition to the innovativeness of Ayón’s pieces and her interest in breaking the two-dimensions of traditional printmaking, endowing the medium with an installation-based dimension via large-scale works that operate as a stage from which to develop an action invading the spectator’s space, encroaching upon myths to adapt them to time and circumstance. The encounter is concluded with an activation on the process of conceiving and engraving the collograph and is conducted by Luis Cabrera, an artist and professor at the School of Printmaking and Graphic Design at Madrid’s Real Casa de la Moneda who taught Belkis Ayón the technique in Cuba.
Alexandre Arrechea (Trinidad, Cuba, 1970) is an artist. Until 2003, he was a member of the art collective Los Carpinteros before focusing on developing his solo career. His work is characterised by an exploration of themes around the concepts of power and control, and the relationship between the public and the private. He has held solo shows in cities like Washington D. C. and Madrid, while his works have been part of collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Museo Reina Sofía, among others.
Luis Cabrera Hernández (Havana, 1956) is a professor at the School of Printmaking and Graphic Design at Madrid’s Real Casa de la Moneda. His work is part of different international collections, among them those in the Leipzig Cabinet of Prints (Germany), the Collection of Contemporary Engravings at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Cuba, following different national and international solo shows. Furthermore, he has received awards at events such as the Sapporo International Print Biennial (Japan, 1991), the Máximo Ramos Printmaking Award (Concello de Ferrol, 1995) and the Deutsche Stiftung Foundaton’s Printmaking Award (1999).
Cristina Vives (Havana, 1955) is an art curator, researcher, editor and independent art critic. She is the author of different monographic publications on artists and critical texts on contemporary art and photography, such as the anthology Memoria. Artes visuales cubanas del siglo XX (California International Art Foundation, 2002). Further, she is part of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), the Advisory Committee of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami, and the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) in Paris. On five occasions, she has received both National Curatorial Awards issued by the Cuban section of the International Association of Art Critics (1989 and 1991) and awards from Cuba’s National Council of Plastic Arts (2007, 2009 and 2010). She is curator of the exhibition Belkis Ayón. Collographs.