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WIFREDO LAM Le Sabot dans le nez 1964

orn of a Chinese father and a Cuban mother, Wifredo Lam invented a hybrid style of painting that blended western modernism with Afro-Caribbean symbols. He was affiliated with various avant-garde movements, such as Cubism, Surrealism, and CoBrA, that emphasized freedom and encouraged the emergence of the unconscious through the practice of collective and automatic drawing. Picasso took an interest in the young artist in Paris in 1937. Lam was fleeing the war in Spain, and Picasso introduced him to André Breton, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner, Henri Matisse, and others. After the defeat of June 1940, Lam met up with André Breton in Marseille and, the following year, left with him for Martinique and then Cuba. Back again in the land of his birth, he discovered, with the eyes of an artist in love with liberty, the misery suffered by the black population at the hands of Batista. In protest against their condition and in solidarity with them, he plunged into the esoteric and mystical universe of Afro-Cuban traditions. Fusing Expressionism and Surrealism, he developed a powerful totemic style, one that still resonated with the influence of Picasso. Lam left Cuba in 1945 to set out on extensive travels, visiting Port-au-Prince, New York, Paris, Caracas, and Stockholm, among others. He continued to show his work and built up an international reputation. After the Cuban revolution, he was invited to return to the country in 1963 by Carlos Franqui, an ex-guerrilla and the new Minister of Culture, and was warmly welcomed. Beginning in 1964 – the year he painted Le Sabot dans le nez – Lam divided his time between Paris and Albissola Mare in Italy. These were fertile years for him, and his work was the subject of numerous international exhibitions. Le Sabot dans le nez is emblematic of this remarkable period in which Lam developed a more refined and concentrated treatment of characters. Floating in an indefinite space, the figures take on the mythical power of imaginary civilizations in which masks of humans or animals convey a primary formal force. Each element of the painting seems to dance. The emotional impact produced by this effect evokes voodoo rites and Santería ceremonies. Going beyond that shamanistic dimension, this is a work profoundly inscribed in modernity. The quasi-monochrome palette creates a complex play between line and color, emptiness and fullness, and surface and depth. The distilled forms appear angular, geometric, and linear, animated by a subtle use of color in a mysterious dialect that emanates the purest poetry. ––


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David Lévy - TEFAF Maastricht 2018  

David Lévy - TEFAF Maastricht 2018