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Manuel Mendive was born in Havana, Cuba. At an early age his family introduced him to the Afro-Cuban religion Santería, and to this day he is a practitioner of this and other African-derived traditions. Mendive graduated in 1963 from the San Alejandro National School of Fine Arts in Havana as a painter. From the beginning of his artistic career, Mendive intentionally employed a “primitive” artistic style to express the myths and cosmology of Yoruba-derived traditions in Cuba.

The period from 1963 to 1968 is known as Mendive s dark period possibly the most important of his career During this time he focused on the representation of Afro Cuban myths with predominantly ochre tones and a blending of painting with sculpture and assemblage mixed media often using materials with ritual connotations In their appearance and conceptualization the works approximated certain Afro Cuban ritual objects without explicitly reflecting ...