Art Show Demonstrates Range of Cuban Work

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For the last 10 years, Paulo Acosta Cabezas, a San Francisco resident who owns the the Mamá Art Cafe in the Excelsior and the Cara y Cabezas Contemporary Gallery in Kansas City, has been going to the Havana Biennial Art Exhibition.

On those trips he fell in love with the work Cubans were producing and two years ago began preparing the exhibition, “Feminine Voices and Poetics,” which opened Friday night at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Art.

The show, which will be open for a week, includes more than five dozen works of art – primarily photography, but also paintings, engravings and multimedia.

“This is work that has not left Cuba since she passed away,” said Cabezas as he stood in front of two prints by Belkis Ayón.

The show is dedicated to the young artist who committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 32.  A Ayón print of a black and white collograph -  a collage made with successive layers of prints – shows human figures laying face down as they peer down a black hole.

Two collographs by Belkis Ayón.

Two collographs by Belkis Ayón.

Much of  Ayón’s work developed through her study of the Afro-Cuban religion of Abakuá.  The image, however,  conveys a universal existential angst.  The figures surround the black hole, and while we cannot see their faces, the body language suggests they are looking into an abyss.

In a 1997 interview with David Mateo in La Gaceta de Cuba,  Ayón said of Abakuá’s influence,  ”I have always been distant from the Abakuá mythology because my position is rather that of an observer. The distance in fact is the perspective in which I find myself to establish the analogies and to incorporate any universal experience in the specific logic of the myth.”

A print of a photograph by Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo.

A print of a photograph by Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo.

Another beautiful piece is a color print by Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo, a woman in her 20s, that shows a young curl curled up languidly on a tiled Cuban floor reading a magazine. She is near a bed and its mattress is covered in leaves.  The girls relaxed pose and a small dresser in the background, the bottom shelf filled with worn shoes, gives the scene a normalcy that the leaves unsettle.

Acosta Cabezas selected a good range of images and he has prepared a catalogue that can be ordered by contacting  gallery@caraandcabezas.com.

For more information on Belkis Ayón, here is a 2009 piece from NPR. 

The gallery at the Mission Cultural Center at 2868 Mission St. is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3 Comments

  1. Paulo Acosta Cabezas is a great guy. I was in an art show he sponsored at the Mama Art Cafe tackling the issue of street harassment through art, and can say firsthand that the guy is a true class act and supporter of art of all kinds. This show looks amazing.

  2. I am extremely excited and thrilled with the process and the results of this great exhibition that Paulo Acosta Cabezas made happen.
    As a woman, artist and a person that question society I can only express my happiness to be able to admire the artworks of forty one Cuban women who inspire deeper respect for what they stand for and for what it means to have them here; their message doesn’t have frontiers and their artistic expression transcend beyond political views and social structures.
    Mr. Acosta Cabezas thank you for making this happen and looking forward for the next artistic venture.

  3. Paulo, is a HUGE asset to the art and culture community! He’s done something like 100 exhibitions over the past 10 years. This show was really exciting work with provenance.

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