Ana Mendieta, the Cuban Artist who Fused Ritual and Magic with Art
It is necessary to maintain the artistic vision of this passionate artist alive; she left a corpus as stimulating as it is reflexive.
Art is a sophisticated lattice of techniques, supports and sculptural matter that combined around an idea or feeling, give life to a being which survives its creator. The body and the physis are the material that par excellence have given art a figurative face throughout history, an essence covered in glaze or hammer blows. The men and women of art have joined forces with the men and women of magic, sharing evident features in their processes, rituals, techniques and motivations. A creator who externalized her call to magic and materialized in art her profound link to nature was Cuban artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985).
From the very beginning, Mendieta related her artistic work with her country’s magical and religious practices. She used bodily fluids to symbolically seal her work’s processes; experimented with the elements as sculptural matter, and, by camouflaging with clay, water and plants, had an impact on the earth.. The photographs that recorded her creative process evince a particular interest in fertility rituals, the restitution of blood and the return to the cavernous womb of the earth. Another constant practice in her work was that of transforming the body: a series of self-portraits revealed identities that brought to the surface questions about gender, sexuality and violence.
This prolific artist undoubtedly changed the way of perceiving self-portraiture, nature and the body. Her work excavated in that which the avant-garde artists had brought to modernity’s surface: the relevance of art’s primitive past. Without conceptual bonds, her work alludes to the most profound aspects of the relationship that the early man held with the body and mother earth. On repeated occasions, the artist perceived her attachments to the idea of a “matteric” bodily art, physical, free and honest.
"My art is grounded in the belief of one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant from plant to galaxy. My works are the irrigation veins of this universal fluid. Through them ascend the ancestral sap, the original beliefs, the primordial accumulations, the unconscious thoughts that animate the world."
With this statement, Mendieta makes it clear that her creation is a pulse of life, an empathetic affirmation of reconciliation and spiritual splendour in the age of the market, numbers and efficiency. The Cuban artist’s message is universal and her referent is planetary: in the original human magic that conceived art and that breathed nature in its purest state there are meaningful keys for the transformation of art and society.
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