Havana, Cuba - 1959

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Why Are You Doing This to Me?
Mixed media on canvas. 2008. 76 x 122 cm
Why Are You Doing This to Me? Long-Distance Friendship Memories of Back Then Hare's Life

Considered by many to be one of the greatest living proponents of Cuban Art, whether on or off the island; founder of the “Cuban ‘80s” generation and a member of the radical Volumen I, which represented a drastic change in the cultural scene of post-revolution Cuba. José has shown his work in museums and art centers of such international prestige as the MOMA in New York, the Georges Pompidou in Paris, the MARCO in Monterrey, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Carrillo Gil, and the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City, among others. He studied at the Escuela de Arte San Alejandro and the Instituto Superior de Arte, both in Havana. He emigrated to Mexico in 1991 and to the United States in 1993. He has held solo shows in Cuba, Mexico, the United States, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Panama, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ireland, France, Colombia, the Philippines, and Canada. Among other awards and grants, he has won the Grand Prize at the Salón de Paisaje, Havana, Cuba (1982); finalist for the Premio Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain (1982); Installation Prize, SecondHavana Biennale, Cuba (1986); Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, NY, USA (1994); and the Oscar B. Cintas Foundation Fellowship, NY, USA (1997). His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others. “José Bedia wanders or moves among the currents emerging from post-conceptualism, or neo-conceptualism. He is a cultural nomad. Hisis a journey that is both external and internal, moving through and uniting different cultural frontiers. He assimilates them, compares them, unites them, discovering resemblances. His canvas is vast. It is an ancient manuscript that conserves traces of writing that came before, writing that has been erased but that has not disappeared. His work is characterized primarily by the line, with its direct and crude expressiveness, and the use of text, of written language. His painting sprouts and spills. Oversimplifying things a bit, it could be said that there are two main thrusts that identify his work: on the one hand, the critical anthropological treatment of ancestral cultures, whether of African origin or those of the autochthonous peoples of Latin America, Australia, etc.; and on the other, the form in which he collects, treasures, returns, and offers up the customs, ways, visions, magic, and rituals in which he takes part in his travels, both in his paintings and his installations, with messages in languages both ancient and contemporary, in turn calling attention to topics that are completely current. They are jottings or abbreviated notes/records on life performed through the alchemy of experience. It is as if he sought to restore the original spiritual force in order to express it and make it totally active and current for us in his canvases. It is the extraction and expression of the world of the primordial cultures, with important lessons to offer contemporary humankind.” (Roberto Ascóniga, 2009