Manuel Mendive Hoyo. El hijo de Oggún (The son of Ogun), 2002. Metal, wood, and acrylic. 72 x 39 1/2 x 19 inches. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, promised gift of Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez. ©Manuel Mendive Hoyo. 

Manuel Mendive Hoyo’s colorful paintings, drawings, performances, and sculptures are heavily influenced by Yoruba and Santería practices and Afro-Caribbean culture. In Santería, orishas are figures akin to Catholic saints; they are forces that manifest themselves in society and nature. Santería myths explain these characters by linking them to certain natural materials that represent the orishas in religious ceremonies and everyday life. Manuel Mendive Hoyo’s works aim to poetically connect the viewer to these deities, drawing on the symbolism of Santería through the materials used.

El hijo de Oggún (The son of Ogun) depicts the son of the spirit Ogun, a warrior and powerful spirit of metalwork and rum making. His followers believe that Ogun simply disappeared into the earth’s surface and never experienced death. The artist’s use of wood and metal here refers to the materials that many of Ogun’s followers carry with them to garner his protection. Though human-like, the sculptural figure isn’t a human body, but instead a mythical, four-legged creature, recalling Ogun’s association with dogs. The sculpture also functions as a painting; Manuel Mendive Hoyo has included vignettes depicting a figure armed with tools and objects on the work’s surface.