The Art of Yoruba

OUR CURRENT ISSUE features the work of Harmonia Rosales, an Afro-Cuban artist whose gilded aesthetic, floral corners, and dark bodies imagine a Renaissance of diaspora. Creating iconic panels of haloed deities adorned with 24-karat gold, Rosales evokes the Sistine Chapel, and her two recent exhibitions at UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art are designed around that association — viewers crane their necks to see the work hanging above them, displayed not on a cathedral ceiling, but on the undercarriage of a slave ship.

 

 

Displayed together, the paintings retell Biblical stories with the narratives of Yoruba, the West African religious tradition. A close study of any of them reveals Black and Latinx figures populating the Garden of Eden and Orishas and other Yoruba spirits descending from the skies. “The disruption of [Eve’s] perfect garden,” she tells Colossal, “parallels the disruption of the African continent.”

 

 

Rosales’s work is currently on exhibition at St. Mary’s College Museum of Art. More at harmoniarosales.art.