If there was an artist of today that answered the question of total artist, working through a variety of mediums, in the static and in the move. An artist that has more than just technical ability to portray the unseen, but a willingness to transfer the spiritual into the mundane, whilst not losing any of the spirit in the process, it would be Manuel Mendive. By Spiritual I’m referring to the different unseen elements & principles that make up physical reality, so being spiritual is not to be part of a private members club, it’s simply recognising, ‘life is more than what the hand can grasp’ – Yassin Bey (Mos Def).
Flawlessly flowing between painting, sculpture, performance. Reason for the flow, the fruit of his labour he himself eats, not giving that which he would not feast on. Critic Ed Sullivan speaks of Mendive as an artist relies on the senses: thought, touch, color, breath, air, and fire”.
‘and here i am, always working, thinking about my art and it’s surroundings. Pondering my culture and it’s origins, the strength of the African presence on this island. After having found a series of images, of symbols, a whole unified multicultural vision. I express all I desire, I speak all I want..
Los Hijos del agua, conversando con un pez /
The Sons of Water, Talking to a Fish, 2001
I speak, and I don’t just speak for the island, I speak for the whole world because I address issues that belong to all. I am always thinking about the universal elements and that my language belongs to all mankind… because I’m making a statement and I want to be heard, just speaking for the island is not enough.’ – Manuel Mendive
In that short paragraph, almost less than 40 seconds of speech Mendive summarises his intentions with intense clarity, which comes abundantly through the work. It would not be amiss to say I am heavily indebted to not just the form of Manuel Mendive’s work as we are often drawing from similar roots (the lived and unlived pre colonial African religion(s) and philosophical frameworks). The content, the unseen conversation between the image(s) places Mendive as he who knows what it is to be Mage, magician in control of the eye and I in control of himself. Art is alchemy and Mendive is an alchemist of the highest order. An answer to the question, a clear direction found in the seeking.
Thanks to Manuel Mendive.
Energia Ancestral (Ancestral Enegry), 1986
Waters of the River (Aguas del Rio), 2014