José Bedia’s art reflects his immersion in the cultures of his native Cuba and of the indigenous peoples of Latin America, Africa, and North America. Bedia draws on his assimilated knowledge to create work about the exile—a poignant figure predominant in modern life and contemporary art. Employing cross-cultural references relating to themes of dislocation and transformation, Bedia explores identity, both individual and communal.
Central to Bedia’s work is his practice of Palo Monte, an Afro-Cuban religion with particular appeal to the artist because of its strong links with Native American beliefs. In this painting of St. Lazarus (San Lázaro), Bedia has inscribed the canvas with variant Palo names for the venerated figure, who appears with his attributes, crutches and guide dogs licking his wounds. Lazarus inspires fear and reverence. The humble saint of health and healing shows no mercy to the vain and arrogant; he provides solace to the afflicted and especially to the poor and to immigrants. His comforting words appear in the middle of the painting: “Yo soy la ruta, el camino por donde vas” (I am the way, the path to get you there).
Tags: contemporary art