Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis

September 24, 2017–April 15, 2018

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).

A comprehensive illustrated publication is available for purchase at University of Washington Press.

Selected Works

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Program begins at 18 seconds.


Brazilian artist Ayrson Heráclito performs a Candomblé ritual blessing with popcorn on opening night of the exhibition.

Brazilian artist Eder Muniz speaks about his work A força que habita em mim/The Force that Resides Within Me, 2017

Music: “Jahnoy” by Med Dred

See behind-the-scenes of footage of artist Caetano Dias producing his Cabeças de Açúcar works.

See how the Fowler crew worked to install Divisor by Brazilian artist Ayrson Heráclito.

Music: “Feeling a Classically Lovely Fountain” by EXPWY

[arve url=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/198285224″]

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Supported by grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA takes place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California, from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Public programs and educational outreach activities are made possible in part by the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Travel support is provided in part by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Consulate General in Los Angeles.


Exhibition Credits