BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999)
BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999)
BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999)
2 More
BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999)

Untitled (Sikán with Goat)

BELKIS AYÓN (1967-1999)
Untitled (Sikán with Goat)
signed 'Belkis Ayón Manso' (lower right); numbered '3/VI' (lower left)
collograph on paper
35 x 27 ¾ in. (88.9 x 70.5 cm.)
Executed in 1993.
Edition three of six.
Private collection, Germany.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
E. J. Sullivan, Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century, London, Phaidon Press Limited, 1996 (another edition illustrated, p. 14).
J. Veigas and K. Ayón, Nkame: Belkis Ayón, Madrid, Turner, 2010, no. 93.14 (another edition illustrated, p. 204).
Breining, Germany, Church of Saint Barbara, Sosténme en el dolor, 1995.
Houston, The Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Behind the veil of a myth/ Tras el velo de un mito: Belkis Ayón, 2018 (another edition illustrated, pp. 27, 88 and 97).
Aachen, Germany, Ludwig Forum Aachen, Belkis Ayón. Ya Estamos Aquí, October 2022 - March 2023, no. 15.
Further details
This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by Katia Ayón Manso and dated 24 February 2013.

Brought to you by

Kristen France
Kristen France Vice President, Specialist

Lot Essay

“I aspire above all to give my vision, my points of view as observer, presenting in a synthesized form the aesthetic, plastic, and poetic aspects I discovered in Abakuá,” Ayón once declared, “persistently relating them to the nature of man, with vivid personalities, with feeling which sometimes grips us, feelings we don’t know how to define, with these fugitive emotions…with the spiritual” (“Belkis Ayón: Statements by and About the Deceased Artist,” Callaloo 37, no. 4, 2014, p. 769). The mythology of Abakúa, the secret all-male, Afro-Cuban fraternity, provided a creative wellspring for Ayón across a short but prodigious career. She studied at Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte and joined the faculty following her graduation in 1991; she later led the school’s department of printmaking. Ayón represented Cuba at the Venice Biennale in 1993, famously riding her bicycle twenty miles to the airport, and her work has recently been celebrated in two major exhibitions: Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA in 2016, and Belkis Ayón: Collographs, which opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2021.
“It is curious that in almost all her works Belkis herself served as model for the representation of Sikán,” Orlando Hernández has observed. “The shape of her body, her head, her face, her eyes constantly appear in her prints replacing the body, the head, the face, and the eyes of Sikán. . . . In Belkis’s works, Sikán became a woman once again, a black Cuban woman with feelings, ideas, opinions. Belkis’s presence as Sikán allows the ancient mythical situation constantly reenacted in the rituals to become human and contemporary, thus making visible the real and daily content that the mechanics of every ritual tend to hide or forget” (“Belkis Ayón Manso,” Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, exh. cat., El Museo del Barrio, New York, 2017, p. 14). Sikán plays a central role in the origin myth of Abakúa. A princess of the Efut nation, Sikán unwittingly trapped a fish whose embodied voice belonged to the supreme deity and ancestor whose sacred knowledge was forbidden to women; she divulged this secret to her lover, a member of a rival tribe, in a decision that ultimately condemned her to death.
Ayón portrays herself as a pregnant Sikán in the present Untitled, suggestively returning us to origins of Abakúa. Against a dark ground spotted with enchanted fish, she casts a wary gaze over her right shoulder while cradling a goat—a sacrificial offering—against her chest; a medallion with suggestive (Christian) Lamb of God imagery falls against the white scales of her upper body. “The image of Sikán is evident in all these works,” Ayón remarked, “because she, like me, lived and lives through me in restlessness, looking insistently for a way out” (op. cit., p. 769). A collagraph, made by printing materials collaged onto cardboard, Untitled constitutes a feminist homage to the legend and sacrifice of Sikán—and, implicitly, to Ayón herself.
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

More from Latin American Art

View All
View All