Lunguanda Yembe
Date 1950
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 130.4 x 97 x 2 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-327
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During the 1950s, Wifredo Lam increasingly simplified the shapes of the creatures in his bestiary, which stand out on a sombre background: a kind of vertical character, a totem, with its forearms crossed, is dominated by a figure whose gender is masked and which resembles a bird (the lunar dove). To the left, a tilted shape, with two circles and two horns, could be the head of a disturbing monster corresponding to the gods of the lucumí religion. The writer Lydia Cabrera (1899-1991), a friend of the painter and a fellow Cuban, gave this painting, which was initially called Composition or Lunar Dove, the untranslatable title Lunguanda Yembe. This anthropologist went round Cuba, collecting from the elders of the island information about their myths and rituals. She was the author of numerous works on the origins of the African universe, with its personified animals and gods, and on destiny and the work of animals and plants (including La Forêt et les Dieux, Réligions afro-cubaines et Médecine sacrée à Cuba, éditions Jean-Michel Place, 2003). AC
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; Galerie du Dragon, Paris; private collection, Paris; Albert Loeb gallery, Paris; acquired in 1997.