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Jose Bedia’s indigenous expressions are not folkloric, nor a modern curiosity in the aesthetics and forms found in tribal art. In his work Bedia explores the influence of the African, Afro-Cuban and Native American religions, as well as cosmology. His traditions are rooted in his initiation into the Regla de Congo, a group of closely related religions that arrived in Cuba with West African slaves in the late 18th century.

Bedia’s interests within his art practice are not fundamentally of an intellectual pursuit, but rather spiritual understanding. He is a true believer in the spiritual forces of the ceremonial objects. In the Ogun series, Ogun is identified as the Orisha of the "Blacksmith", a term ascribed to African slaves brought to Cuba to build the railroad system.

“Everyone knows that I base my work on those things. I don’t want to hide anything. I try to recreate the power of that spirit force...The works are allegories of war in which the spiritual world is harnessed as a powerful force. This is where mythology and the real, once again meet, acting out an eternal struggle against the background of the continuing impact of a colonial history as it continues to influence and haunt the present or simply through the brutal presence of western economics and military power.”
(Bedia, José , and Omar-Pascual Castillo. José Bedia: Works, 1978 - 2006. Madrid: Turner, 2007. Print.)

Field-collected in Zambia in 1991 by Central African art expert Manuel Jordan, the masked figure of Chisaluke represents a powerful ancestor with great spiritual influence. A central figure in what is known as the Mukanda initiation of boys into adulthood, each initiate in the village has his own Chisaluke which acts as a guardian in the ceremonial transition into manhood. Dressed in his own unique costuming, the masked Chisaluke is embellished with batik textiles, geometric patterns, and a phallic appendage. The mask which symbolizes the power of their ancestors is adorned with a beard and pelts.


Jose bedia Jose Bedia Jose Bedia
Jose Bedia Chisaluke Jose Bedia


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