WITHOUT MASKS Contemporary Afro-Cuban art

 Maria Magdalena Campos, Dreaming of an Island, 2008, Polaroid 20” x 24”, Polacolor #7 Composition of 9 Polaroid’s 70, 5 x 62 cm (each piece) 215 x 188 cm (overall size) Edition 1/2 (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - UNMASKED)

Maria Magdalena Campos, Dreaming of an Island, 2008, Polaroid 20” x 24”, Polacolor #7 Composition of 9 Polaroid’s 70, 5 x 62 cm (each piece) 215 x 188 cm (overall size) Edition 1/2 (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS )

How fortuitous that the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) was able to unmask a collection of Afro-Cuban art at an exhibition coinciding with South Africa’s hosting of the soccer World Cup – and the spotlight falling on Africa.

Curator, Orlando Hermandez, has dished up a veritable feast of artworks representing a cross-section of Afro-Cuban artists from the internationally renowned to street artists. The exhibition features 26 artists showing a total of 79 works. Without Masks opens a window into the lives and struggles of Cubans of African descent, largely the descendants of slaves.

Ibrahim Miranda, Los Novios (The Bridal Couple), 2004, Woodcut on paper 98 x 101 cm

Ibrahim Miranda, Los Novios (The Bridal Couple), 2004, Woodcut on paper 98 x 101 cm (Photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Maria Magdalena Campos, a descendant of Nigerian Slaves, creates a sense of great longing  in Dreaming of an Island. Yet her dreams cannot escape the threads of hair that define her race or the nets of centuries of enslavement, or the consequences modern day human trafficking.

Carlos Garaicoa Abstracciones (Abstractions), 1997 - 2000, Color photograph 124 x 100 cm 1/3 Edition (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Carlos Garaicoa Abstracciones (Abstractions), 1997 - 2000, Color photograph 124 x 100 cm 1/3 Edition (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Another interesting aspect of the exhibition shows artists reflecting on the Angolan war of the 1970s and 80s in which South African forces fought Cuban soldiers.

Belkis Ayón Manso,Perfidia (Perfidy), 1998, Collography on heavy paper 200 x 2520 cm (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Belkis Ayón Manso,Perfidia (Perfidy), 1998, Collography on heavy paper 200 x 2520 cm (photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Underlying almost all of the works on show is artists’ striving to come to grips with race, identity, religion, superstition and sacrifice in a multi-cultural society rooted in slavery, colonialism, revolution, socialism and war.

Yoan Capote, El Beso (The Kiss), 1999, Installation. Bronze with different patina, perfume essence and sponge 7.5 x 4 x 4.5 cm (each piece) (Photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Yoan Capote, El Beso (The Kiss), 1999, Installation. Bronze with different patina, perfume essence and sponge 7.5 x 4 x 4.5 cm (each piece) (Photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

Markers of race such as skin, hair and the shape of a nose are to a large degree interrogated in terms of identity and the stereotyping of individuals.  An overriding message is that human beings are fundamentally the same, irrespective of origins, colour and class.

Elio Rodríguez, Gone with the Macho (from The Pearls of Your Mouth series), 1996, Screen print on paper 70 x 48,5 cm

The exhibition does not lack a good dose of satire and humour such as Elio Rodríguez', Gone with the Macho (from The Pearls of Your Mouth series), 1996, Screen print on paper 70 x 48,5 cm (Photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS).

The exhibition features artworks collected by former South African businessman, Chris von Christierson, now resident in London who was introduced to Afro-Cuban art by Orlando Hermandez, in 2007.

Alexis Esquivel, Árbol Genealógico (Genealogical Tree), 2008, Acrylic on canvas 195 x 145,5 cm Signed on the top edge of canvas ‘Alexis Esquivel ‘08’

Alexis Esquivel, Árbol Genealógico (Genealogical Tree), 2008, Acrylic on canvas 195 x 145,5 cm (Photograph Johannesburg Art Gallery JAG - WITHOUT MASKS)

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Marvellous Art Musings interactively muses on a personal journey in the field of twentieth century and contemporary South African art, and showcases the vibrant South African art scene and more ... Marvellous Art provides art consulting, curating and writing services
This entry was posted in ART EXHIBITION, ART GALLERY, ARTIST, COLLECTING ART, CONTEMPORARY ART, Drawing, Etchings, Lithograph, New Media/video art, Painter, Photography, Sculptor, SOUTH AFRICAN ART SCENE and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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