Born in Havana in 1944, Mendive was brought up in the Afro-Cuban religious and cultural tradition. Graduating from La Acadamia Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro in 1963, Mendive’s work was focused on an exploration of his cultural roots. His work largely concerned socio-cultural impacts of the African diaspora and the way in which the culture arrived in Latin America as a result of the slave and plantation trade.
Pushed into working in the USSR style of social realism in the 70s, Mendive quickly realised that the style did not capture any sentiments felt by the artist and became quickly disillusioned with the movement. His work offered an alternative to the strict and reductive socialist realist movement offering an opposing worldview in which human beings and deities exist hand in hand without exception- first in carved, polychrome wood, later in paintings, performances and designs on dancers bodies.
Trained in Western art technique, Mendive individually developed his chosen iconographic and personal style, although he cites both Giotto and Fra Angelico as his two main influences.
Mendive’s artistic universe captures an infusion of magical thinking into everyday life—where man and fish and all beings that live in the sea and on land share, with generosity, the sources of creation and the favour of the divine orishas.
Mendive has exhbited across the world and is widely collected. Along with his studio, some of Mendive's work is housed in a small gallery in the Plaza de la Catedral.Download CV
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