Nkame. Belkis Ayón (1967-1999). Anthological exhibition

September 11, 2009
Convent of San Francisco from Asis, Havana, Cuba
Sikán, Mokongo

Katia Ayón, Estate de Belkis AyónIn the book Los Ñañigos by Enrique Sosa Rodríguez, Casa de las Américas, 1982, page 249 (copy in the artist’s book shelves), Belkis Ayón underlined in blue, years before her death, the nkame that the modern ñañigos inscribe in the Christian graves of the deceased abanekwe:

«Do not recall in your sleep
Any of your siblings
who cry over your absence.»

Photo Gallery – Exhibition
Photo Gallery – Closing Ceremony

Nkame, a word meaning praise and salutation in the Abakuá language,  is the title of the exhibition (and of the book in print) which will render tribute, in the tenth anniversary of her physical disappearance, to an artist who left with her death a message of life.

The Belkis Ayón Estate and the Office of the Historian of the City announce the opening of this anthological exhibition that will remain open to the public up to November 28, 2009.  The exhibition includes 83 works made with the techniques of collography, lithography and chalcography made between 1984, when she studied at the San Alejandro Academy, up to the series made between 1998-1999, including her last personal exhibition in Los Angeles, California. All the large format works  that the artist made since the beginning of her artistic trajectory will be seen jointly for the first time, some of them together with the matrixes and the sketches.
Belkis died at the age of  thirty-two, leaving behind indispensable works for the history of contemporary printmaking. The clues to her death remain a painful mystery for the international artistic community that had witnessed with admiration her successful rise to the most demanding artistic circles of the 1990’s.
The Abakuá religion and secret society, the topical sources of her work, are spaces created by men and only for men. They ban and segregate women and, at the same time, keep a strict discipline and inexpugnable ethics and mystery. Belkis penetrated in the spaces of the rite up to where she was allowed, and studied all the sources of information within her reach. As a result, she created an overpowering iconography and interpreted the religious myth from her stand as an Latin, black, female artist towards the close of the 20th century.
According to the curator of the exhibition: «There is no doubt that Belkis took up this topic to build a discourse against marginality, frustration, fear, censorship, impotence and in favor of seeking freedom…»

Written by Cristina Vives

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