Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris is pleased to present Ana Mendieta: Cuba & Miami, 1981-83, a solo exhibition of large-scale photographs, newly-digitized films, and a rarely exhibited sculpture that tie together Mendieta’s native and adopted homelands of Cuba and the United States. Often referring to being “torn” from her homeland, Mendieta persistently sought to connect with her origins and the Cuba she left as a child. Mendieta’s return to Cuba as an adult and fully formed artist deeply influenced her perspective and approach to artmaking. Almost 40 years later, a selection of these works will be on view in Paris for the first time.
Following the completion of Mendieta’s well-known Silueta Series (1973 — 80), the artist’s works became increasingly greater in scale and sculptural. In 1980, she began using a medium format camera, enabling her photographs to be printed on a large scale. To emphasize the geometry and three-dimensionality of her forms, Mendieta also began to favor black-and-white photography over color. Mendieta was the first exile to be officially recognized by the Cuban Ministry of Culture to create works of art in Cuba, and she completed one of the most important cycle of works, Rupestrian Sculptures, in the hills of Jaruco Park. Working within nature and in remote locations, Mendieta took inspiration from indigenous Cuban culture and pre-Columbian myths to inscribe archetypal female forms within the landscape. She carved directly into limestone and painted silhouettes in black, leaving her mark in a place that was home and naming the individual sculptures after Taíno deities. Several black-and-white Rupestrian Sculptures photographs will be on view, in which Mendieta carved abstracted figures into rock formations. Two newly digitized films — Untitled, made in Varadero and Untitled, made in Guanabo — which Mendieta filmed in Cuba will be shown for the first time.
The exhibition also features works made in Miami, symbolically and physically the closest geographic point to Cuba. Finding affinity to Miami’s shores, she often visited and created a number of works in the landscape, notably, the Sandwoman (1983) series. A rare recreation of the original installation, which anticipated her subsequent sculptures made from earth and wood, as well as several Sandwoman photographs. Ochún (1981), a photograph of a work that Mendieta also documented on video, was titled after the patron saint of Cuba and Afro-Cuban deity who possesses the power to create unity. Two curved ridges of sand symbolize the United States and Cuba, unified by the same water, which then flows between them. Displacement and unity, two abiding themes for Mendieta, are clearly present throughout this body of work and the exhibition.