Exhibition of Wifredo Lam | Centre Georges Pompidou | Paris, France 2015-16
October 7, 2015
For the first time, the Centre Pompidou is devoting a retrospective to the work of Wifredo Lam (1902-1982), with a circuit of nearly 300 works – paintings, drawings, engravings and ceramics – enriched with archives, documents and photographs that illustrate a committed approach in a century full of radical change.
ABOUT WIFREDO LAM
The internationally renowned Cuban painter Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) was a precursor of a cross-cultural style of painting, infusing Western modernism with African and Caribbean symbolism. His peripatetic life brought him into contact with all the avant-garde movements of his times―cubism, surrealism, CoBrA―whose incentives for greater freedom in art, for unleashing the unconscious, and for exploring the “marvelous” through automatic writing had great impact on his work. But Lam never lost sight of the world around him and like his friend Aimé Césaire took on the struggle “to paint the drama of his country, the cause and spirit of the blacks.” He invented a highly original voice that speaks in the name of “defending human dignity” and “saluting freedom.”
EXHIBITION | PARIS, FRANCE | 2015-2016 Lam's work occupies a singular and paradoxical position in 20th century art. It reflects the diverse movements of forms and ideas in the context of avant-gardes, exchanges and cultural movements – both within themselves and across national borders – that embodied the "broader modernism" described by Andreas Huyssen, but in a different way from the question of globalisation that emerged in the 1990s, and long before it.
Recognised and present from 1940 onwards in private collections and museums, and famous the world over, Lam's work is still subject to considerable misunderstanding and simplistic enthusiasm. While it received attention, encouragement and comments from the key figures he met in Paris during the late Thirties (Picasso, Michel Leiris and André Breton), then in the West Indies, Cuba and Haiti during the Forties (including Aimé Césaire, Fernando Ortiz, Alejo Carpentier, Lydia Cabrera and Pierre Mabille), certain culturalist approaches have altered the perception of a complex output that was invented and structured between several different physical and cultural locations, in conflict with the supposed centre(s) and peripheries of modernity.
This exhibition looks back at not only the origins of his work, but also the various stages and situations in which a body of work, patiently constructed between Spain, Paris/Marseille and Cuba, was gradually acknowledged and absorbed into the corpus of canonic modern art.
This exhibition takes place at Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou) from 30 September 2015 to 15 February 2016. In April 2016, it will arrive at Madrid (Reiña Sofia) and travel again to London (Tate Modern) in september. An exhibition will also be held in China (Beijing and Shanghai) during the Festival Croisements.