Manuel Mendive and his dedication to the plastic arts of Cuba

Manuel Mendive and his dedication to the plastic arts of Cuba

HAVANA, Dec. 15th  Manuel Mendive, 2001 National Prize for Plastic Arts, celebrates today 78 years dedicated mostly to invoking from his visuality the ancestral rites and divinities intrinsically linked to the cultural development of Cuba to irradiate them to the world.

Noted for the way he puts the rites of Yoruba origin on the island to canvas, Mendive conquered aesthetic quality in the plastic arts several decades ago, but the seeds of his success came when he was barely 11 years old when he won a prize in the Contest International Children’s Painting organized by Unesco and the Morinaga Society, of Exaltation of the Mother, in Tokyo, Japan.

His training, which took place in the 1960s at the San Alejandro Academy, was later complemented by studies in Folklore Ethnology at the Cuban Academy of Sciences and Art History at the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the University of La Havana.

Since then, creating has been a living faith for the owner of a mystical work who has traveled from Havana to the XLIII Venice Biennale (1988), the Modern Museum of Stockholm (1989), the Palacio de Velázquez, Madrid (1990 ), the Poliforum Cultural Siqueiros, Mexico (1991) and the Bochum Museum, Germany (1994) as part of prestigious individual and collective exhibitions.

Manuel Mendive and his dedication to the plastic arts of Cuba

My pillar is the Yoruba religion, my pillar is faith, my pillar is mysticism, my pillar is truth, and my pillar is also goodness and sweetness, as well as anguish and earth and life, he assured national media in 2015 to refer to his assets in the long path of visual arts where he also made the springs of performance and body art his own through the painted bodies of dancers.

Members of the Ensemble and the National Folkloric Ballet as well as the Contemporary Dance Company joined this expressive desire to give movement and life to their works inspired by the wisdom of national religiosity, which Mendive has explored as a painter, sculptor, engraver, and installation.

On the way to his 80th birthday, the Cuban artist does not cease his intense production in different disciplines and, proof of this, is the exhibition “Life is Beautiful” exhibited at the Palazzo della Cancellería located in Vatican City since last 27 November where it converges with a profoundly Catholic environment such as the Vasari Room.

A promise I made to the maestro, whom I met in Cuba and to whom a beautiful friendship binds me, to bring his work to Rome, and present it in this room of the Palazzo della Cancellería, is fulfilled. It is a really strong union. The harmony of two worlds”, stated the gallery owner and creator of the initiative, Eriberto Bettini during the inauguration.

When cataloging Mendive’s creation, the art critic Luciano Caprile evaluated the high significance of his work that is inserted in the Magical Realism movement, in an emotional and absorbing way, with a unique atmosphere.

Among the numerous distinctions for creativity and pictorial stamp that endorse him are the Adam Montparnasse Collective Award for young painting at the XXIV Salon de Mayo, Paris in 1968; the awards of the Second International Festival Cagnes Sur Mer, France in 1970, from the Espacio Latinoamericano Gallery of Paris granted during the first two editions of the

Havana Biennial

Likewise, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba awarded him the Alejo Carpentier Medal in 1988 and the Félix Varela Order in 1994, the year he received the Knight Order of Arts and Letters from the Ministry of Culture and Francophony of the Republic of France. while he deserved the Medal of the Five Continents of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 2009.