Gold Hooks and Political Looks – Yoan Capote

Requiem, an exhibition of recent work by Cuban artist Yoan Capote. Ben Brown Fine Arts.

Capote, requiem (plegaria II), 2020
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Sep 15 - Nov 5

Ben Brown Fine Art

Renowned Cuban artist Yoan Capote is rustling into town and will show at Ben Brown Fine Arts now that lockdown allows. Boats, gold, and the human cost; the weft of these symbols runs deep through the heart of both the Cuban experience and that of sea-faring immigrants. Many viewers ascribe these themes to Capote but whether accurately or simply as PR fascia we must judge ourselves. The prettiness of Capote’s installation work underplays his challenge to position, capital, history and privilege in a coy way. In the gallery setting are these moral statements easy because we’re distant? Furthermore is there yet a barbed entreaty in his work which ridicules the idle rich through sly winks and gold-encrusted fishhooks. Bait, Bluster or Revelation, we wait to see.

Press Release on Requiem

Ben Brown Fine Arts is delighted to announce Requiem, an exhibition of recent work by Cuban artist Yoan Capote. Opening in London in May 2021, the works represent a new stylistic phase in Capote’s practice, which sees the artist introduce gold leaf to his archetypal seascape paintings for the first time.

Requiem brings together large-scale canvases that pay homage to human nature and the victim of social conflicts around the world. Though inspired by political, social and migration issues particular to his Cuba, the themes of Capote’s paintings are universally accessible. In their depiction of sky and ocean, this series of works presents a deeper exploration of spiritual and physical boundaries: from our environment to the human condition, life and death, nature and politics.

Yoan Capote

In Requiem, the duality of these themes takes on a material quality. The canvases see Capote incorporate gold leaf alongside his iconic use of fishhooks, which depicts the sea as a sculptural ‘iron curtain’. The sea is a prominent and recurring image in Capote’s work, not only a reflection of Cuba’s status as an island but also as allegories of freedom and isolation, hope and tragedy. Where the fishhooks symbolise seduction and traps, the use of gold leaf – associated with purity and divinity from ancient times – creates a series of installations that inspire hope and harmony.

Yoan Capote Bio 

Yoan Capote (b.1977) graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba in 2001. His work has been exhibited extensively in Cuba, Europe and in the USA where he took part in the group exhibition Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art, 1950-2015 which travelled throughout the country including the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. Capote has received awards and grants from prestigious institutions such as UNESCO; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York; Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York; and the Brownstone Foundation, Paris. Notable collections include the Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague; Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe; Daros Latin America Collection, Zurich; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco; the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus; Buhl Collection, New York; 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Houston; Farber Collection, New York; Karen and Robery Duncan, Lincoln; and North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Main image: Yoan Capote, Requiem (Plegaria III), 2020, 24 kt gold leaf, oil, nails and fishhooks on linen panel on plywood, 3 panels; 180 x 352 x 11 cm; (70 7/8 x 138 5/8 x 4 3/8 in.) total (detail)


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