Ana Mendieta: Traces

Art
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Ana Mendieta ('Untitled (Grass on Woman)', 1972)
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'Untitled (Grass on Woman)', 1972

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ana Mendieta ('Imagen de Yagul', 1973)
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'Imagen de Yagul', 1973

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ana Mendieta ('Tree of Life', 1976)
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'Tree of Life', 1976

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ana Mendieta ('Untitled (Blood and Feathers)', 1974)
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'Untitled (Blood and Feathers)', 1974

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ana Mendieta ('Untitled (Body Tracks)', 1974)
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'Untitled (Body Tracks)', 1974

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ana Mendieta ('Untitled', 1973)
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'Untitled', 1973

© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Given the amount of work she produced, it’s remarkable to think that Ana Mendieta lost her life so young (in 1985, aged 37). Experimenting with her body as a medium, the Cuban artist placed herself in situations that veer between the exploratory, ritualistic and disturbing. Blood features heavily. In an early video work the artist appears to sweat blood from her forehead, while in photo-documented performances, it is smeared down the gallery walls. The influence and symbolism of nature also prevails in works that show her naked body camouflaged against a tree or covered in feathers.

Mendieta’s work was the precursor to much performance and body art of the 1970s and 1980s – and it still has an influence on the art coming out of colleges today. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s a chance to come face-to-face with an artist who was not afraid to confront politically-charged issues (quite literally) head on.

Freire Barnes

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