Juan Francisco Elso: Por América offers a captivating retrospective of the brief, yet significant career of the late Cuban artist.


Based in Havana, Elso was part of the first generation of artists born and educated in post-revolutionary Cuba, who gained international recognition in the early 1980’s. Created mostly using natural, organic materials, his sculptural practice examines the complex forms of contemporary Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American identities, as inflected by the cultural influences of Indigenous traditions, Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs, as well as the traumas of colonial oppression. Elso’s commitment to such histories presages current post- and decolonial perspectives. The exhibition examines such legacies and parallels by placing Elso’s prescient work alongside a multigenerational group of artists active in the Caribbean, and throughout North, South, and Central America.

The exhibition features over 70 works by Juan Francisco Elso and a multigenerational group of artists like Glenn Ligon and Belkis Ayón, and introduces new commissions from Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Reynier Leyva Novo. Por América presents the largest survey of Elso’s career to-date, showcasing the evolution of his practice, from his experimentation with new materials to incorporating Indigenous traditions, Afro-Caribbean beliefs, and post-colonial perspectives. 


Presented through a contextual rather than monographic approach, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América is organized into several, interrelated thematic sections that explore vital crosscurrents between Elso’s art and the creative output of both close colleagues and others who, despite having not known him, demonstrate parallel affinities.

Artists participating: Belkis Ayón, José Bedia, Ricardo Brey, Tania Bruguera, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Luis Camnitzer, Los Carpinteros (Alexandre Arrechea, Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez), Albert Chong, Papo Colo (Francisco Colón Quintero), Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez Jiménez, Jimmie Durham, Melvin Edwards, Carlos Estevez, Scherezade García, Silvia Gruner, Karlo Andrei Ibarra, Graciela Iturbide, Magali Lara, Reynier Leyva Novo, Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado), Glenn Ligon, Rogelio López Marin (GORY), Ana Mendieta, Lorraine O'Grady, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Gustavo Pérez-Monzón, Michael Richards, Alison Saar, Leandro Soto, Renée Stout, Gerardo Suter, Ruben Torres Llorca and Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

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