Manuel Toledo

One is welcomed into the Arsenale, the Venice Biennial’s second main exhibition space, by a huge bronze bust of a black woman whose skirt looks like a clay hut. It’s the work titled Brick House by African American artist Simone Leigh who this year has transformed Venice’s US pavilion into what resembles a traditional African building.

Brick House by African American artist Simone Leigh opens the show at Venice’s Arsenale. Brick House is surrounded by Cuban Belkis Ayon´s engraves

Leigh’s piece at the Arsenale is surrounded by a series of prints by the late Cuban artist Belkis Ayón whose works explore her fascination with Afro-Cuban culture, especially with the secret fraternal society Abakuá.

Belkis Ayón has just had a retrospective at Madrid’s Reina Sofia museum

The next room showcases the work of Zimbabwe’s Portia Zvavahera, inspired by dreams and religious beliefs, and of the late Eritrean painter Ficre Ghebreyesus who studied art in the US, where he was a refugee.

Ficre Ghebreyesus was practically unknown to the art world when he passed away in 2012

Between the works of the two African artists, there is a series of sculptures in the shape of ovens by Argentina’s Gabriel Chaile. The exhibition at the Arsenale also includes a series of drawings by the great Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi, a fascinating huge tapestry by South Africa’s Igshaan Adams, and an installation by DR Congo’s Sandra Mujinga.

All in all, a feast for African and Africa-inspired art.

Photos by Manuel Toledo. Originally Published at BBC

In this blog, more on Afro Art at the following link:

Afro heritage at BackroomArt:

Sainthood is too big for me, Dayani Muñoz. Cuban Artist based in Germany

Red lips, Daniel Díaz. Cuban Artist based in UK