Belkis Ayón

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Belkis Ayón Manso
Born (1967-01-23)January 23, 1967
Havana, Cuba
Died September 11, 1999(1999-09-11)
Havana, Cuba
Occupation painter, Lithographer

Belkis Ayón Manso (January 23, 1967 – September 11, 1999) was a Cuban artist and lithographer.[1] Her work was based on Afro-Cuban religion, combining the myth of Sikan and the traditions of the Abakuá, a men's secret society. Her artwork consisted of dark silhouettes and ghostly-white figures with oblong heads and empty, almond-shaped eyes take part in Abakuá rites and rituals,[2] Her work was also thought to reflect her personal issues.[3] Her work was put into an exhibition in 1988, and the exhibitions continued till 2006.[4]

During the year of 1998 Ayon was given four residencies in the Unites States working at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and at the Brandywine Workshop.[5]

Along with her art Ayon also acted as the Vice President of the Union of Writers and Artists from Cuba is a social organization that works with volunteers on developing new endeavors for cultural and artistic development.

In 1999, the Cuban artist of the decade shot herself in the head with her father’s gun. Ayón didn’t leave a suicide note. Why the artist with the cheery demeanor and boisterous laugh took her own life remains a mystery. She was one of the most accomplished contemporary printmakers anywhere.[2] Since her death, the Cuban government has declared her work a patrimony, and so none of it is currently allowed to leave the country.[6]

Then it all changed. With the improved U.S.-Cuba relations it helped the exhibition to come together relatively easily.[2] In late 2016, the UCLA Fowler Museum held the first comprehensive retrospective of Belkis Ayón's works in the United States - an exhibition called Nkame. A detailed chronicle of the opening was written by professor Christina García [7]


In 1999, Ayon committed suicide at the age of 32.[8]


  1. ^ "Belkis Ayón Website". Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  2. ^ a b c Vankin, Deborah. "The late Cuban artist Belkis Ayón's mysterious world unfurls at the Fowler Museum." Los Angeles Times. September 23, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Cultural Critics Page 6 Archived September 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Belkis Ayón Biography - Personal Exhibitions". Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  5. ^ Belkis, Ayon (2014). "Statements by and About the Deceased Artist". Callaloo. 37: 769–775 – via Project MUSE. 
  6. ^ Cultural Critics Page 5 Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ [1] Surfaces, Skins and Secrets: BELKIS AYÓN in L.A. By Christina García. Cuba Counterpoints, Nov 2016.
  8. ^ [2], Vankin, Deborah. "The late Cuban artist Belkis Ayón's mysterious world unfurls at the Fowler Museum". The LA Times. September 23, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2017.

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