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Juan Francisco Elso: Por América at El Museo del Barrio, through March 26, 2023

“Organized by El Museo del Barrio and curated by invited guest curator Olga Viso in collaboration with El Museo curator Susanna V. Temkin, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América investigates the brief yet significant career of the late Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso (1956-1988). Based in Havana, Elso was part of the first generation of artists born and educated in post-revolutionary Cuba, who gained international recognition in the early 1980s.

Created mostly using natural, organic materials, his sculptural practice examines the complex formations of contemporary Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American identities, as inflected by the cultural influences of Indigenous traditions, Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs, as well as the traumas of colonial oppression. Elso’s commitment to such histories – which relate to El Museo del Barrio’s own foundational ethos – presage current post- and decolonial perspectives. The exhibition examines such legacies and parallels by placing Elso’s prescient work alongside a multigenerational group of artists active in the Caribbean, and throughout North, South, and Central America.” — El Museo del Barrio

Juan Francisco Elso, Por América (José Martí), 1986, wood, plaster, earth, pigment, synthetic hair, and glass eyes, 56.75 x 17.25 x 18.25 in. Photo/ Ron Amstutz Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Juan Francisco Elso, Install of La ceiba y La palma, 1983, screenprint mounted on cardboard and wood, 86.625 x 59 x 27.2 in and 96 x 40 x 30.75 in.
Juan Francisco Elso, Tierra, maiz, y vida series, 1983, graphite on paper, pencil on paper, or mixed media on cardboard, various measurements.
Juan Francisco Elso, Pajaro que vuela sobre America, 1985, carved wood, branches, wax, jute thread, and basket elements, 70.875 x 153.5 x 6 in.
Juan Francisco Elso, La Fuerza del Guerrero, 1986, carved wood, plaster, wooden rods, and colored cloth, 65 x 63 x 63 in.
Juan Francisco Elso Installation View of Essay on America Gallery.
Juan Francisco Elso Installation View of Transparency of God gallery through Juan Francisco Elso’s El Rostro de Dios, 1987-1988.
Juan Francisco Elso Installation view of Juan Francisco Elso’s Corazón de América c.1987-1988 and a reproduction of La mano Creadora, 1987-1988.
Juan Francisco Elso, Caballo contra colibri [Horse against Hummingbird], 1988, wood, paper, twigs, jute, wax, volcanic sand, earth, and iron, 96 x 156 x 13 in.
Juan Francisco Elso with Caballo contra colibri. Photo/ Christina Lobeira.

“Presented through a contextual rather than monographic approach, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América is organized into several, interrelated thematic sections that explore vital crosscurrents between Elso’s art and the creative output of both close colleagues and others who, despite having not known him, demonstrate parallel affinities. Featuring 45 works by more than 30 artists, the exhibition includes Belkis Ayón, Luis Camnitzer, Glenn Ligon, Ana Mendieta, and Michael Richards, as well as new commissions by Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Reynier Leyva Novo.” — El Museo del Barrio

Images courtesy El Museo del Barrio.

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