Manuel Mendive Hoyo is perhaps the single most important Cuban artist today. Mendive, a major exponent of contemporary "Afro-cubanismo" in the visual arts, was born in 1944 into a Santería-practicing family. He graduated from the prestigious Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro in Havana in 1962 with honors in sculpture and painting. He held his first one-man show at the Center of Art in Havana in 1964. Since then he has exhibited in some of the most important international venues. The Cuban booth at the XLII International Biennial Exhibition of Modern Art in Venice in 1988 was completely dedicated to his works. His work can be found in Museums and galleries in many countries including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris; as well as museums in Russia, Somalia, Congo, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the U.S and other countries. He is well-known not only for his painting and soft sculpture, but for his performance pieces in which he paints dancers' naked bodies and creates theatrical backdrops and environments. Representing an important strain of Cuban life, Mendive's multi-media work reflects his syncretic take on religion, philosophy, ethnography, art and dance.
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