His Essentialism

José Bedia Tunkashila, (detail),1995 Acrylic on canvas, 71" x 86"

José Bedia
Tunkashila, (detail),1995
Acrylic on canvas, 71" x 86"

1996. "HIS ESSENTIALISM", IN MI ESSENCIALISMO: JOSÉ BEDIA, THE DOUGLAS HYDE GALLERY, TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN, PP. 3-8.

"Jose Bedia is initiated in Palo Monte, an African diaspora religion sourced in an area of northern Angola and southern Zaire known as Kongo. Many of his pieces are titled and include textual commentary in Kongo-Cuban, the ritual language used by practitioners. Cuban cultural life includes an abundance of expressive forms generated by the nation's Kongo heritage. Although centered among the working class of African descent, a significant amount has flooded over into more mainstream culture. As an educated 'occidental' Cuban (his own designation), Bedia's initiation into Palo Monte marked one of his many steps into transcultural citizenship.  (A binary opposition such as Black-White does not work when discussing Cuban society).  The phrase 'transcultural' was first coined by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz (1881-1969). He rejected the term 'acculturation' because it connotes a one-way process in which a newer culture adapts to that already in existence. For Ortiz 'transculturation' suggested a two-way process whereby each culture becomes influenced by the other."

The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin and The Pori Art Museum, Finland co-produced this exhibition and catalogue in 1996. Judith Bettelheim contributed an essay, which became the title of the exhibition, “His Essentialism.”   Melissa Feldman’s essay is entitled “Bedia’s Bilingualism.” 

Download the PDF here.