Belkis Ayón - New Now New York Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Havana
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Havana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Imágenes desde el Silencio: Colografías y Matrices de Belkis Ayón, November 15 - December 18, 2000 (another example exhibited and illustrated, back cover)

  • Literature

    Yolanda Wood, ed., Siempre vuelvo: colografías de Belkis Ayón: exposición homenaje: VII Bienal de La Habana, Havana, 2000, p. 31 (another example illustrated)
    Gerardo Mosquera, ed., Art Cuba: the new generation, New York, 2001, pp. 44-45, 150 (another example illustrated)
    David Mateo, ed., Palabras en acecho, Havana, 2005, p. 93 (another example illustrated)
    Katia Ayón, ed., Nkame: Belkis Ayón, Madrid, 2010, No. 98.07, p.21 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Belkis Ayón died tragically by her own hand at the age of 32, leaving behind a prolific body of work that is finally being revisited in recognition of her significant contribution to the field of contemporary printmaking. Ayón first received international acclaim in 1993 with her exhibition at the Venice Biennale, and again recently a retrospective of her work at the El Museo del Barrio in New York, which has reinvigorated an international interest in her practice. Her choice medium was collography, a labor intensive method of engraving that produces flattened, monochromatic shapes, which Ayón would transform into haunting figures covered in complex textures, suggestive of embroidery or embossing.

    The present lot reflects a recurring leitmotif in Ayón’s work: the Abakúa religion, a secret society restricted to male initiates. However, in her work this patriarchal narrative shifts as the artist repositions women as the protagonists. Interestingly, Ayón’s figures are reminiscent of Kara Walker's silhouettes with their almost featureless faces and simplified shapes, yet their proud and defiant eyes confront the viewer.

    In the present lot, the figure appears to be removing a mask. The word "vernicle" in the title refers to an obsolete term meaning an image of Jesus, yet Ayón has chosen to depict a woman, as she so often does. In the artist's own words, this important print symbolizes "indecision, confusion, of wanting and not wanting, desire and not being able to desire, it is a fight against the mask or façade that as humans we desperately hang on to” (Katia Ayón, ed., Nkame: Belkis Ayón, Madrid, 2010, No. 98.07, p. 21).

Contemporary Cuba: Works from a Private Collection


My Vernicle o ¿tu amor me condena? (My Vernicle or Your Love Condemns Me)

signed, titled, numbered and dated "6/10 My Vernicle o ¿tu amor me condena? Belkis Ayón Marzo / 98" lower edge
37 5/8 x 29 1/2 in. (95.6 x 74.9 cm.)
Executed in 1998, this work is number 6 from an edition of 10.

$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $22,500

Contact Specialist
Sam Mansour
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1219
[email protected]

New Now

New York Auction 28 February 2018