Axé Bahia explores the distinctive cultural role of the city of Salvador, the coastal capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia. Since the 1940s, Salvador has been an internationally renowned center of Afro-Brazilian culture, and it remains an important hub of African-inspired artistic practices in Latin America.
This exhibition is the most comprehensive presentation of Bahian arts to date in the U.S., and features the work of such modernists as Mário Cravo Neto, Rubem Valentim, and Pierre Verger, as well as contemporary artists Rommulo Vieira Conceição, Caetano Dias, Helemozão, Ayrson Heráclito, and others. Axé Bahia features more than 100 works from the mid-20th century to the present, including a stunning array of sculpture, painting, photography, video, and installation art. While adding to popular understandings of core expressions of African heritage such as the religion Candomblé, the exhibition explores the complexities of race and cultural affiliation in Brazil, and the provocative ways in which artists have experienced and responded creatively to prevailing realities of Afro-Brazilian identity in Bahia.
Axé Bahia is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and curated by Patrick A. Polk, Roberto Conduru, Sabrina Gledhill, and Randal Johnson. The exhibition anchors the Fowler’s three-part program exploring Brazil’s African history and cultural heritage, which also includes Lineage through Landscape: Tracing Egun in Brazil by Fran Siegel (July 23–December 10, 2017) and Africa/Americas: Photographic Portraits by Pierre Verger (September 10, 2017–January 21, 2018).