Inauguration of the Mendive Art Project Headquarters

Opening remarks at the project site Mendive Art

Congratulations, Maestro, on your 79th birthday and on the inauguration of the Project Headquarters. Mendive Art Project, start of the Mendive activity program80 which highlights the exhibition to be held at the Mueseo Nacional de Bellas Artes next year, among other activities. And congratulate us for the privilege of sharing this moment with you.

Manuel Mendive is probably one of the Cuban visual artists who pays most attention to representing the magical world of his surroundings in an interconnected play of voices. The resonance of the echoes that are projected in his work as a function of the recreation of the future are the ones that have summoned us to the opening of this exhibition articulated around the pieces of the artist’s personal collection during the 90s and 2000 at the headquarters of the Mendive Art Project. This is not the end of a dream, but the beginning of multiple paths that germinate from the work produced by Master Manuel Mendive Hoyo during more than 60 years of fruitful creative exercise.

The inauguration of this exhibition, which is also the first exhibition of the program of activities for the celebration of his 80 years of life, is a unique event that will allow us to approach, on the one hand, pieces from the master’s personal collection produced between the 1990s and 2000s, and on the other hand, to get in touch with the scenario of the multiple and significant actions that will revolve around his work and will constitute a bulwark for Cuban culture.

The project proposes a spectrum of actions ranging from the preservation of the legacy to its community projection, with which it will be possible to revisit the contributions of the work that as indicated in the project covers a wide range of conceptual proposals such as: “the rescue of collective memory, the historical legacy, the study of raciality, cultural and religious resistance of the African heritage within the insular, Caribbean and American art of the middle of the last century and its continuation in the present…”. [i].

A project. of this magnitude masterfully represents the itinerary of Manuel Mendive’s work. Because the diversity and quality of his drawings, paintings, engravings, sculptures, installations, body painting, performance, keeps him among the artists of high national and international recognition.

His works have been created for the intrepid receiver stimulated by the Master’s provocations to delve into the content and feel in the forms the eagerness to interact with “Nature, the spirit and man” and to feel that “Life is beautiful”. We have used the names of two of his exhibitions because they express important postulates of Mendivian poetics that are articulated with the magic of everyday life and the creation of a magical everyday life. Those that “are everyday things, things that we keep inside in a shirt pocket or in our closet and that, for some reason, are still with us”.”[i]

New images for dissimilar cultural resistances are recognizable since the sixties and seventies when in Cuba urbanization plans were conceived in the midst of great dreams, nature was marginalized and pragmatically instrumentalized in terms of profitability; but beware that in the midst of ideas that bite, Mendive’s work was placed to vibrate to the rhythm of a worldview that did not relegate its many mountains.

What yesterday was read only as the expression of a magical world linked to religious practices today also advocates the preservation of the environment and is an inescapable part of contemporary discourse, when the reading of the work is made from more inclusive positions. It invites us to think about hidden creativities that hide behind subtle, effective traps that we may or may not discover on the forest paths that each one of us traverse.

Here are his archives, documents that refer to the living reality of yesterday. With a great variety of sources that will open the doors to past histories. The documentation of the performances will allow the researchers to renew the depths, and to move in this landlocked sea that is the Olokun area.

Just as the Master’s work exorcises unhappiness, it is to be hoped and desired that the project, through the fulfillment of its social purpose, will also achieve it “because… living is difficult”, [ii] as the artist has stated, and we will have to fight, but the ancestors, the egguns, will continue to accompany us along the paths.

I will end with some words of his that will soon be a year old in an interview when he was asked what he wished for the Cubans. We wish you “The best. Open arms and may God, Obbatalá, all the orishas that exist from all cultures, help us to have health, strength, patience and tranquility.”[iii]. Ache.

[i] Juanamaría Cordones-Cook with Elvira Aballí Morell Manuel Mendive:¹ Beautifying life is my great objective Consulted in;

[ii]Juanamaría Cordones-Cook with Elvira Aballí Morell Manuel Mendive:¹ Beautifying life is my great objective Consulted in;

[iii] Jaime Masó Torres Mendive to Cubans: “May the orishas help us to have health, strength, patience and tranquility” December 30, 2022 in Visual Arts


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