The Historian of the Lion
Manuel Mendive is one of the most prominent living Cuban artists, known for his paintings, sculptures, installations and performance/body work. Mendive draws upon his Afro-Cuban heritage, the imagery and rituals of Santería, Yoruba and Voodoo religions and the history of the African diaspora to re-frame and celebrate the stories and people of Cuba. His inter-disciplinary practice fuses performance, dance, religion and ethnography, creating lyrical, powerful work out of these interconnected mediums. Similarly, Mendive's paintings are mostly on a flat, equitable plane, where earth, animals and humans, sky and ground, are not separate, but exist intertwined with one another.
In 2018, Mendive had his first New York solo show, Nature, Spirit and Body at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Curator Christine Licata quoted a famous Yoruba saying in reference to Mendive's work: "Until the lion gets a historian, the hunter will always be the hero. For me, Mendive is the historian for the lion—and for the cradle of civilization that is Africa."
Earth is all the beauty that surrounds us, that feeds us and helps us to exist and we are present in it...I'm exploring the complexity of nature that is so interesting to me. The green is so pretty and the trees are beautiful and the birds that fly are beautiful too. In short, life is very beautiful.