BERLIN.- Galerie Barbara Thumm
announced that María Magdalena Campos-Pons has joined the gallery program.
The gallery also announced her first solo show at the gallery, entitled "The Rise of the Butterflies" in the fall 2021. In 2017 the gallery presented her work in the group show entitled "Black Matters", as well as in New Viewings in 2020, both curated by Octavio Zaya.
Campos-Pons was born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1959 and grew up in a sugar plantation town called La Vega in Cuba.
In the late 1980s, her art work gained international recognition with her abstract paintings dealing with female sexuality. Her work coincides with the rise of the New Cuban Art movement which began as a reaction against the repressive aspects of the Cuban state and the introduction of conceptual art. A large part of this artistic movement was the introduction of Afro-Cuban presence, both as artists and within the art itself. In an interview with Lynne Bell, she stated: "My work in Cuba looked at issues of sexuality, women's place in society, and the representation of women in the history of art". Since there was not a larger feminism movement in Cuba, it was only through the expression of art through artists like Campos-Pons and others that feminism was kept in the spotlight and popular consciousness.
In the 1990s, Campos-Pons explored her ancestral Yoruba and Chinese roots and the Santería tradition carried over by her Yoruba family members. Santería is a spiritual practice which was developed by African slaves in Cuba by combining influences from Yoruba and Roman Catholic religious systems. Santería is often referred to as a "womans religion" as it is a religion shaped by women and practiced largely by women. The Seven Powers Come by the Sea (1992) and The Seven Powers (1994) are installations that address slavery and make mention of various Yoruba gods and goddesses. Campos-Pons work investigates "a felt history," through the intersection of "non-spoken narratives" and "resilient culture".
In the mid-nineties, she started using large-format photographs which were often arranged into diptychs, triptychs or other configurations. In the early 2000s, Campos-Pons returned to elements of abstraction and minimalism that were reminiscent of her early work, and admittedly influenced by her Cuban professor Antonio Vidal.
According to Campos-Pons' artist statement, her work "renders elements of personal history and persona that have universal relevance. Campos-Pons says: "Of merging ideas, merging of ethnicities, merging of traditions... I am as much black, Cuban, woman, Chinese. I am this tapestry of all of that, and the responses to that could be very complicated and could include even anguish and pain."
Her art has been shown at documenta14 in Kassel as well as in Athens, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Venice Biennale; the Johannesburg Biennial; the First Liverpool Biennial; the Dakar Biennale in Senegal; and the Guangzhou Triennial in China. Campos-Pons' work is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Canada, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, the Miami Art Museum and the Fogg Art Museum, the Ludwig Stiftung in Aachen.
Campos-Pons currently teaches at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair of Fine Arts. In 2020, and as a result of the nationwide social unrest, she launched Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice", which is defined as a Vanderbilt University "trans-institutional series of virtual conversations and artistic collaborations focused on healing at a time of significant social unrest."
Campos-Pons is also represented by Wendy Norris Gallery, San Francisco, USA; Giampaolo Abbondio, Milan, Italy; Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami, USA.