Ana Mendieta —Traces

Ana Mendieta’s exhibition—Traces at Hayward Galllery was very impressive for me, the artist uses her own body and elemental materials to create performance and earth-body sculptures.

The first part of the exhibition is quite violent, but powerful in vision. Many of these works respond to the violent crimes happened in society, mostly about women under violence. She used real ox blood in her drawing, or in the performance, audience may not get the intention behind instantly, but they can feel the idea of brutality straight forward by the bloody scenes

Despite her metaphors of life, death, spiritual things…I am very fascinated by her drawings, which for the first glance, has a primitive quality (and kind of Matisse like). The paper she used is called amate, a type of bark paper made in Mexico, the brownish texture enables strong, dark line drawing to stand out. The images are related to labyrinths, goddess but are reduced to an extreme in terms of colour and lineation.


Ana also used real leaves to make drawings, the leaves are from a species of tree called clusia rosea, the copey, with thick, leathery leaves that you can write on. The shape of leaf certainly has a relation to her early drawings and later sculptures. The presentation of these leaves are interesting, they are displayed in framed canvases, which echoes the nature and texture on the leaves.

Untitled by Ana Mendieta, incised leaf

Untitled by Ana Mendieta, incised leaf

Ana’s three stages of making work:conception, realisation and documentation. It was particularly important to make a permanent record of actions and performances that only existed for a brief time. Ana learnt this lesson during her student time, but used it throughout her whole life. Thus, the documentation section in the exhibition is interesting to see, films that record her performances and postcards that review her exhibitions and trips are especially impressive for me.

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