EKELE KWA, a beacon of contemporary art in New York City’s TriBeCa district, is set to host a groundbreaking exhibition featuring the works of acclaimed artist Tomás Esson. This marks Esson’s debut at the gallery’s 57 Walker Street location, where visitors will be treated to an immersive experience with five new large-scale abstractions.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1963, Tomás Esson is a formidable force in the world of art, bringing forth the rich tapestry of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora through his compelling creations. Since his first exhibition in 1988, Esson has been a vital voice, albeit one met with resistance from Cuban authorities who censored and shut down his inaugural showcase. Despite such challenges, Esson perseveres, weaving together diverse aesthetic and political traditions to create a body of work that is as provocative as it is profound.

The title of Esson’s latest exhibition, “EKELE KWA,” derives from the Igbo term meaning “Greetings! O!” This phrase, in its Afro-Caribbean or Hispanicized form of “equelecua!”, holds deep significance, symbolizing gratitude and affirmation. For Esson, it may serve as a proclamation of his own freedom – his inherent right and destiny to create art that resonates with authenticity and truth.

Stepping into EKELE KWA, visitors will encounter Esson’s masterful paintings, where form and color converge with remarkable precision. The fluidity of his brushstrokes and the vibrancy of his palette evoke the pioneering spirit of American and European abstract painters like Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning. Yet, Esson’s work transcends mere emulation, as he infuses his abstractions with a distinct Afro-Caribbean sensibility, drawing from a rich cultural lineage that spans continents and centuries.

For Esson, painting is a form of liberation – a means of transcending boundaries and expressing the ineffable essence of the human experience. His journey as an artist has evolved from a socio-political narrative rooted in Surrealist figuration to an emotionally charged, intuitive exploration of form and space. Through his dynamic abstractions, Esson invites viewers to embark on a journey of discovery, where each canvas becomes a portal to a world of infinite possibility.

Tomás Esson’s artistic trajectory has taken him from the streets of Havana to the vibrant cultural landscapes of Miami and New York City. A graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Esson’s work has garnered international acclaim, earning a place in prestigious collections such as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

In 2020-21, Esson was the subject of a career retrospective titled “The GOAT” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, highlighting three decades of artistic innovation and influence. His work continues to captivate audiences around the world, transcending boundaries of time and space to provoke thought, evoke emotion, and inspire change.

As EKELE KWA opens its doors to Tomás Esson’s latest exhibition, art enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike are invited to immerse themselves in a world of Afro-Caribbean abstraction. From March to May, 57 Walker Street will be transformed into a sanctuary of creativity and expression, where the legacy of Tomás Esson shines brightly for all to behold.


Acclaimed Tomás Esson Takes Over David Lewis Gallery
Acclaimed Tomás Esson Takes Over David Lewis Gallery

David Lewis Gallery

March 15th – April 20th 2024

57 Walker Street, NY 10013

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

About CANY:

Cuba Art NY (CANY) is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization that promotes the work of contemporary Cuban-born artists living outside of Cuba. The organization was founded in 2001 by a small group of art enthusiasts.  The CANY Board of Directors and advisors are all volunteers.

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