The Ludwig Forum Aachen presents Ya Estamos Aquí (Spanish for: We’re Here Already), the first survey exhibition of the Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (Havana, 1967-1999) in the German-speaking world. Starting from a selection of around seventy works created in the period from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, the exhibition introduces key creative periods of the artist’s career.
The figures, symbols, and rituals in her collages are borrowed from the Afro-Cuban secret society Abakuá, reserved exclusively for men, which Ayón studied intensively throughout her life. In her personal adaptations of Abakuá mythologies, she brings together concepts of syncretism, meaning the fusion of different belief systems, and hierarchical power structures. For her updated depictions of this myth, the artist used the process of collagraphy—a printing technique in which collaged and textured materials are painstakingly layered onto a cardboard matrix.
Starting with nineteen prints and three matrices from the early 1990s that are part of the Peter und Irene Ludwig Collection at Ludwig Forum Aachen, the exhibition is significantly extended and includes loans from the Belkis Ayón Estate and a selection of ephemera and archival materials. This comprehensive presentation of her practice highlights, not least, the links between the artist and Peter and Irene Ludwig’s collection as well as the broader Aachen region, where she first exhibited in 1995. Now, Ya Estamos Aquí opens up to a broad audience the themes that Belkis Ayón always sought to question: the human, the fleeting feeling, the spiritual.