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The Wandering Eye: Cuban Art On The Hudson

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield.

Hermes’s Cuban connections (I call them the R’s – all their names start with R. And I wonder why they don’t like me?? ☺ ) alerted him to an exhibition of the work of the late Cuban painter and printmaker Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) at FRG Objects and Design Gallery, 217 Warren Street.

FRG Objects and Design is showing prints and paintings by Belkis Ayón through September 30 in its handsome space (above Ackermans Appliances). Ayón’s work is classified as Cuban artistic patrimony and isn’t exportable, so the show at FRG is an opportunity to see and buy rarities. Love that.

Belkis Ayón

Ayón was very interested in the Afro Cuban all-male secret society, Abakua. The imagery and references are thick – Cubans don’t do ‘thin.’ There was suspicion when Ayón committed suicide that perhaps she had been killed by members angered at her exposure of secret rituals. She began exhibiting in Cuba in 1988 as the Soviet Union began to fall. With the dissolution of Cuba’s primary source of support, the country fell into what became known as The Special Period in Time of Peace, a decade of extreme economic deprivation. There was very little food and there certainly were no printmaking materials. So Ayón created her own techniques incorporating varied materials – necessity is the mother of invention and Cubans are unparalleled at making do with what they have.

This NPR story focuses on an exhibition of her work that took place in Havana in 2009. And check out an Abakua dancing the Rhumba via the Congo. 



Belkis Ayón Exhibit
FRG Objects & Design
217 Warrent St., 2nd Floor
Hudson, NY
(646) 483-9109

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/25/14 at 10:12 AM • Permalink