Categories ArtPosted on

Wifredo Lam – The Cuban Surrealist at TATE Modern

The ‘Ey Exhibition: Wifredo Lam’ display at TATE Modern (on until 8th January 2017), celebrates this Cuban artist’s life and work, confirming his place at the centre of global art history. A witness to twentieth century political upheaval ongoing throughout his long career, Lam’s distinctive paintings introduced the symbolism of his Cuban roots and defined a new and unique way of painting for a post-colonial world, bringing a historical perspective to contemporary issues.

exhibitionThe ‘Ey Exhibition: Wifredo Lam’ display at TATE Modern (on until 8th January 2017), celebrates this Cuban artist’s life and work, confirming his place at the centre of global art history. A witness to twentieth century political upheaval ongoing throughout his long career, Lam’s distinctive paintings introduced the symbolism of his Cuban roots and defined a new and unique way of painting for a post-colonial world, bringing a historical perspective to contemporary issues.

DarkMalemboCC
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads
DarkMalemboCC
 Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads 
1943
The Rudman Trust
© SDO Wifredo Lam
DarkMalemboCC
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads
30_38.33_Autoportrait.
 Wifredo Lam (1902-1982). Self-Portrait, III.  1938. Private collection, Paris. © SDO Wifredo Lam

Born and raised in Cuba in 1902, Wifredo Lam was of mixed-race ancestry: his father was a Chinese immigrant and his mother was of Spanish and African heritage. During his early years in Cuba, he was surrounded by many African influences, which proved to be the main artistic inspiration for his work. In 1923, Lam moved to Madrid to further his artistic education under Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor y Zaragoza, the curator of the Museo del Prado and teacher of Salvador Dalí. Lam’s early paintings were in the modernist Spanish tradition influenced by Dalí, Matisse and Picasso. In 1938, he travelled to Paris, where he became connected to movements such as Cubism and Surrealism, and artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso, André Breton, Asger Jorn, Lucio Fontana and Aimé Césaire.

lumiere-de-la-foret-1942-collection-centre-pompidou-photo-georges-meguerditchian-adagp-paris-2015
Lumière de la foret 1942 collection Centre Pompidou photo Georges Meguerditchian © Adagp, Paris 2015
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) Light of the Forest 1942 Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, MNAM-CCI © SDO Wifredo Lam
The Window I 1935, Pérez Art Museum Miami CC Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) The Window I 1935 Pérez Art Museum Miami © SDO Wifredo Lam
The Window I 1935, Pérez Art Museum Miami CC
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Window I
1935
Pérez Art Museum Miami
© SDO Wifredo Lam

Travelling in Europe and North and South America all his life, Lam was a witness to twentieth century political upheaval, including the Spanish Civil War, the evacuation of artists and intellectuals from France with the onset of World War II, and the new Cuba, born of the revolution. His work poetically addressed themes of social injustice, nature and spirituality that challenged prevailing attitudes held by western artists about other cultures, and spanned continents and traditions, achieving a successful artistic career on both sides of the Atlantic for Lam.

umbral-tc
Umbral TC Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Threshold
1950
Photo: Georges Meguerditchian/Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP 
©Adagp, Paris
X62246 TC Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) Horse-Headed Woman 1950 The Rudman Trust © SDO Wifredo Lam
X62246 TC
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
Horse-Headed Woman
1950
The Rudman Trust
© SDO Wifredo Lam

On 14th November 2016, Assistant Curator Katy Wan will be offering a private view of The ‘Ey Exhibition: Wifredo Lam’, during which visitors will learn why Lam’s life and work put him at the centre of global modernism.

X56101_a Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) Self-Portrait, II 1938 The Rudman Trust © SDO Wifredo Lam
X56101_a
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
Self-Portrait, II
1938
The Rudman Trust
© SDO Wifredo Lam
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X56197 Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) Bélial, Emperor of the Flies 1948 Private collection © SDO Wifredo Lam

On 28th November 2016, fashion designer Duro Olowu will also offer a tour of the exhibition, focusing on specific works that have served as inspiration for his own designs.

Le ReveilI 1938 - Collection particulière photo Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris 2015 Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Awakening, I, 
1938
Private collection
© SDO Wifredo Lam
Photograph: Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris 2015
Le ReveilI 1938 – Collection particulière photo Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris 2015
Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
The Awakening, I, 
1938
Private collection
© SDO Wifredo Lam
Photograph: Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris 2015

Before going to see this unique exhibition, SEEN suggests you explore Wifredo Lam’s life and work by watching the film Wifredo Lam – The Cuban Surrealist | TateShots, in which the artist’s son recounts his father’s story and shares his memories.

www.tate.org.uk

Tate Modern
Bankside
London
SE1 9TG

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