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Cuba's tragic and mysterious printmaker

Belkis Ayon explored the secretive world of the all-male Abakua tradition. Her suicide is still a mystery.

"The Flame and The Rope," 1991. Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayon explored the secretive world of the all-male Abakua tradition. Ayon was 32 when she committed suicide in 1999, and her friends and family still don't know why. (Courtesy Ayon Family)

HAVANA, Cuba — At 32 years old, Belkis Ayon was already one of Cuba's most famous artists.

Her dark, haunting prints drew on Afro-Cuban religious beliefs and in particular an all-male secret society called abakua. The Museum of Modern Art had purchased one of her works.

But then, on Sept. 11, 1999, she committed suicide. Her friends and family still don't know why.

Now a major retrospective exhibit has opened in Havana's San Francisco de Asis cathedral.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/cuba/091022/belkis-ayon-exhibit-havana