Belkis Ayón Manso(Havana, 1967-1999)

Belkis Ayón is the unusual case of a woman who devoted her brief but intense artistic career to recreating the cultural and spiritual heritage of a religious group of African origin, known in Cuba as the Abakuá Secret Society, which hasthe peculiarity of being an all-male society. Despite the fact that it does not admit any woman as a member, the main protagonist of the mythology and rituals of the society was a female named Sikán.

Resurrección (Resurrection)

Resurrección, 1998 is another of the many monumental and powerful works by Belkis Ayón. It could refer to the momentous moment when the indísime, after having been initiated and transformed into obonekue, is born to a new life in the Abakuá society. The signature painted on the shaved head of the kneeling character seems to indicate thus. The curtains could represent those of the iriongo or secret place where the Ekwe, the sacred drum of the Abakuá, is hidden and after which the different spirits appear from the bush, the river, which needed in this ritual. The figure at the back of the recent initiate is probably the spirit of Sikán who comes to protect the new initiate. High up, almost in darkness, an opened-mouth mysterious face seems to mimic the sacred sound made by the Ekwe, a drum that is not tapped, as wisely pointed out by one obonekue.

Perhaps we cannot disregard that all these complex mythical stories narrated by Belkis Ayón may have another reading, and refer to situations of her daily life, or the intimate, emotional, psychological life of the artist, or perhaps they are comments on women's rights, defensive arguments about gender equity, but what is evident is the existence of a consistent poetic language, well informed about Afro-Cuban religious traditions and performed with a great technical mastery and beauty.

Year: 1998
Technique: Collography on heavy paper
Size: 263 x 212 cm (9 parts of 100 x 70 cm each)

Theme: gender identity religion ritual