"Things that Cannot Be Seen Any Other Way: The Art of Manuel Mendive” is a multi-faceted effort that explores Mendive’s visual and performance work. This exhibition is a newly-produced, career-spanning overview while emphasizing the artist’s mature work. Whereas cubism and surrealism had been common among his predecessors, Mendive instead incorporates visual elements rooted in Lukumi/Yoruba visual traditions into his painting.
The exhibition starts with an exploration of Mendive's formative years--early drawings, clay works and small textiles. It continues with his mythological paintings, appliqué works (Sacred Cloths) and abstract pieces. It concludes with some of his bronze and soft sculptures, and an installation of masks that surround the screening of the video
Las Cabezas. The video captures a 2012 performance during the Havana Biennale.
In addition to the use of religious themes in the exhibition, Mendive's work incorporates the concepts of nationalism, mysticism and history. Each series bears witness to both the time and place of its making, showing the artist’s growth and development, but also testifying to his deep commitment to Afro-Cuban culture and the art of painting in addition to his concerns around the nature of religion and its visual language.
This exhibition has been curated by Dr. Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz, a Cuban born Art Historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices. The exhibition opens at the California African American Museum (CAAM), will proceed to the Frost Museum at Florida International University, in collaboration with the University of Miami.
Background: Manuel Mendive is a recognized international contemporary master whose career has flourished during Cuba’s revolutionary period. He has exhibited throughout Europe, Russia, Africa, and Latin America. However, because of the decades old U.S.-Cuba embargo, his work has rarely been seen in this country.