UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History
Los Angeles, CA
The Fowler Museum is pleased to present Nkame, the first solo museum exhibition in the United States dedicated to the work of Belkis Ayón (1967–1999)— the late Cuban visual artist who mined the founding myth of the Afro-Cuban fraternal society Abakuá to create an independent and powerful visual iconography. Ayón was known for her signature technique of collography, a printing process in which a variety of materials of various textures and absorbencies are collaged onto a cardboard matrix and then run through the press with paper.
Her deliberately austere palette of shades and subtle tones of black, white, and grey added an air of mystery to her narratives, many of which were produced at very large scale by joining multiple printed sheets. For a black Cuban woman, both her ascendency in the contemporary printmaking world and her investigation of a powerful all-male brotherhood were notable and bold.
The exhibition covers a wide range of her graphic production from 1984 until her untimely passing. Nkame, a word synonymous with “greeting” and “praise” in the language of Abakuá, is a posthumous tribute to the artist as well as a sweeping overview of her most fertile period of artistic creativity. The project is guest curated by Cristina Vives, an independent curator and art critic based in Havana, Cuba, and is organized by the Belkis Ayón Estate and Dr. Katia Ayón with the Fowler Museum at UCLA.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Belkis Ayón: Nkame: Catalogue Raisonné , a catalogue raisonné, provides a complete account of the life and work of Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (1967-1999). Working through the worst years of Cuba's post-Soviet economic crisis, Ayón developed her engraving and serigraph technique using collaged paper, and mined Afro-Cuban religious traditions to create an independent and powerful visual iconography.