With five photographs and an unseen video-installation made specially for the occasion, Blau Projects opens the exhibition “Black Pearl”, by artist from Bahia Ayrson Heráclito. The show brings works from two distinct series of the artist, Buruburu and Vodun Agbê, exhibited simultaneously for the first time. Ayrson also presents the performance Buruburu – presented recently in Berlin, Germany – in two occasions, during the opening of the exhibition, on August 20, at 17h, and as part of the Gallery Weekend event, at 19h30, on September 2nd. The critical text is by Beatriz Franco.
Strongly influenced by African-Brazilian culture and religions, Ayrson analyses ritualistic, symbolic and mythological questions while working with the sacred teams in his arts. The exhibition is an homage to a young Obaluayê and Omolú, the older deity. The name Black Pearl is a reference to Omolú, a god from the Candomblé universe, with a very painful story. He was born covered by wounds and was abandoned by his mother by the sea, so the sea would take him. The water goddess Yemoja found him half-eaten by fishes and almost dead, so she took him to her kingdom and washed his wounds, healing him. Even though Omolú was treated by Yemanjá, he continued to be very poor, surviving on alms. To try to compensate for his needs, she offered him her greatest treasure, the pearls. That is why Omolú is considered the lord of the pearls. Besides, the exhibition happens in August, the month when those devoted to Omolú honor him.
The performance presented in the opening, Buruburu, is also inspired by this myth. In the Yoruba tonge, “Buruburu” means “popcorn”. “The performance has this divine power, of cleaning and healing. It is a ritual of healing and detoxification”, says Ayrson. In one of the myths that involve Omolú, his wounds are turned into flowers, and his disease into white flowers that emerge from his body through blowing and his energy. “Water and popcorn are the big materials of the exhibition, and are the symbols of the healing and cleansing process”, states the artist.
Vodun Agbê is the lord of hu, the ocean. He is the thrid child of Mawu, generated with his twin sister Naeté. The myth is represented by a serpent, a symbol of perpetuity. The annual celebration of Agbê (named Gozin) celebrated the alliance between mankind and the sea, and it happens in Grande Popo, in the southeastern coast of Benin. The reunion of these two series, Buruburu and Vodun Agbê, happens since there are symbolic similarities, mainly because both address the symbolic rites of cleanse and energizing.
Known for using in his works elements like palm oil, ch’arki, sugar, fish, sperm, blood and saliva, body, healing rituals, Ayrson, who is also a curator and professor, has been invited to international residencies and exhibitions, like the recent The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse, at Savvy Contemporary Institute, in Berlin, Germany.
“For me, ritual means shaking”, says Ayrson. “My work stirs historical wounds. I’m not an artist without the sacred. The sacred is present in all my artistic action in the world”, he explains. Life, art and religion are mixed in the artist’s oeuvre, that deals with nature and sacred with the same intensity and transfigures them.
- Ayrson Heráclito, “Barrueco”, 2004