Friday December 15, 2017

Miami Preview: A Feast of Cuban Art During ABMB

A quick, island-focused look at the week’s fairs, exhibitions, and events

Consuelo Castañeda, Artist's rendering of the installation Recycle (Stairs), 2012

Courtesy the artist and Hardcore Art Contemporary Space

We’re already in countdown mode for the 11th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, the most prestigious art show in the Americas. From December 6 through 9—with some fairs opening earlier—Miami becomes the capital of the art world, welcoming some of the most advanced, relevant, and sophisticated modern and contemporary art worldwide.

Among the many fairs, exhibitions, and events, Cuban art will be a strong presence in Miami next week. Cuban artists will be represented in most of the regular fairs around the city, backed by an impressive roster of solo shows in galleries in the renowned Wynwood and Design Districts.

Wifredo Lam, Seated Woman, 1944

Courtesy Cernuda Arte

As usual, Cernuda Arte and Trestart each affirm their participation in the Art Miami fair (December 4-9) with generous selections of Cuban masters. Cernuda Arte will feature a range of 20th-century artists, with a special focus on Wifredo Lam and René Portocarrero. Their exhibition will also include works by Carlos Enríquez, Victor Manuel, Fidelio Ponce, Aristides Fernández, Amelia Peláez, Cundo Bermúdez, Mario Carreno, Jose Mijares, Agustín Cárdenas, and Servando Cabrera Moreno. Among contemporary artists, highlights include works by Tomás Sánchez—who set a new sales record at last week’s Latin American auction at Christie’s in New York—as well as Gina Pellon, Flora Fong, Sosabravo Alfredo, Miguel Florido, and Vicente Hernández.

With an emphasis on Cuban abstract artists, Trestart will present a carefully curated selection of works by Loló Soldevilla and Luis Martínez Pedro, both members of the iconic group Diez pintores concretos (Ten concrete painters), which radically transformed the art scene in Havana between 1958 and 1961. 

Abel Barroso, Casa-Mochila (House-Backpack), 2012

Courtesy Pan American Art Projects

Pan American Art Projects, also a regular at Art Miami, will focus on contemporary Cuban art, with recent works by Gustavo Acosta, Carlos Estévez, and Abel Barroso on view. Juan Ruiz Gallery also features works by Abel Barroso at Art Miami. In addition, the gallery will be presenting a series of drawings by Kcho, who delves into the drama of the split Cuban identity. There is also a new, moving, and beautifully handcrafted installation by Rubén Torres-Llorca, dealing with aesthetic and political ambiguities and expectations in contemporary global society.

Kcho, Untitled, 2008

Courtesy Juan Ruí\iz Gallery

CONTEXT Art Miami (December 4-9), a new fair for emerging and cutting-edge art, has drawn its share of gallerists showing Cuban art. Among them are Mexico City’s Nina Menocal Gallery, showing work by Sandra Ramos; and from New York, Magnan Metz Gallery, showing Alexandre Arrechea, and 532 Gallery Thomas Jaekel, presenting Armando Mariño. 

Armando Mariño, Tree of Life, 2012

Courtesy 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel

At Scope (December 4-9), works by María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Carlos Gamez de Francisco, among others, will be on view at the Hardcore Art Contemporary Space booth. Just Mad Mia Contemporary Art Fair, a Madrid-based newcomer added this year to the ABMB panorama, will be featuring works by Cuban artists Niels Reyes, Alejandro P. Falconi, and Alejandro Campins, represented by Raymaluz Art Gallery

Carlos Gamez de Francisco, The Color of Pomegranates, 2011

Courtesy Hardcore Art Contemporary Space

Along with the main fairs and events, Cuban art lovers will have the opportunity to catch gallery shows spotlighting key figures in the island’s contemporary art scene. That’s the case at Alma Fine Art, where Vidente (Clairvoyant) presents the recent video work of Marta María Pérez, and at the recently opened exhibition space Buzzart, which is hosting 1989-2012 Fotografías de Juan Carlos Alom, a museum-quality retrospective. At the Juan Ruiz Gallery in Wynwood, One of us can be wrong and other essays presents recent work by Rubén Torres Llorca in a solo show.

At the Pan American Art Projects gallery space, A Country, An Illusion showcases recent works by Abel Barroso. Charged with a bittersweet accent, the exhibition deals with the notion of artificial borders and arbitrary fate. Hardcore Art Contemporary Space presents Recycle, a solo show by Cuban-born, Miami-based Consuelo Castañeda, in which the artist’s large-scale models of service-industry settings explore the physical and conceptual aspects of recycling.

On the museum front, the Miami Art Museum is presenting its annual New Works Miami 2013. The show celebrates the tremendous creative energy of the local artists’ community. Look here for more from Castañeda, who, along with fellow local artist Emmett Moore, has been invited to create an immersive environment in MAM’s plaza-level gallery, in which they respond formally and conceptually to works by the show’s other artists.

Carlos Estévez, Nadie puede ver por mis ojos, 1994

Courtesy Pan American Art Projects and Miami Art Museum

It should be noted that the museum, a leading art institution in the city, recently acquired Nadie puede ver por mis ojos (No one can see through my eyes), a stunning 1994 installation by Carlos Estévez.

On December 8th at 11 a.m., the CIFO Art Space will present Sweet and Safe, a happening by Carlos Garaicoa. The event is part of Kreëmart, a worldwide public art program organized by CIFO, which takes contemporary artists out of their usual creative process by giving them a new medium to work in—dessert—and a professional chef to work with. During ABMB 2010, the Cuban collective Los Carpinteros (Marcos Castillo and Dagoberto Rodríguez) were invited to participate in Kreëmart, and the duo created the hilarious happening Brazo Gitano. Garaicoa's project will undoubtedly be surprising in its own way, and perhaps even tastier.

And if Cuban art at the fairs, galleries, and museums aren’t enough, within the frantic landscape of social events that invariably accompany ABMB, two standout events spotlight Cuban culture and traditions.  

From Wrinkles of the City - Havana Cuba by José Parlá and JR

Courtesy the artists

At The Standard Spa in Miami Beach, the pop-up Cafecito Neptuno will offer an authentic Cuban-style café experience. As part of its activities, Cafecito Neptuno is presenting a film and book of the project The Wrinkles of the City: Havana Cuba, a huge mural installation done for the recent Havana Biennale by Jose Parla, a Cuban-American artist, and JR, a renowned French graffiti artist. Focusing on the idea of memory, the city, and its inhabitants, the project resulted in enormous images of elderly habaneros painted on the sides of crumbling buildings.

Los Carpinteros, Güiro, 2012

Courtesy the artists and Absolut Art Bureau

Conceived by Los Carpinteros and located on the Oceanfront between between 20 and 21 Streets, Güiro is an art project sponsored by Absolut. Part bar, part artwork, part home base, and already generating plenty of buzz, Güiro is a large, oval-shaped, open-air dome inspired by the Cuban percussion instrument made from a slatted, dried gourd. As a slang term, güiro also means “party.” The slatted structure provides seating in its rectangular openings, with the shelves holding books, bottles, and objects curated by the art duo. Live music, performances, and events are also scheduled for this sui generis space.

Janet Batet (b. Havana, Cuba) is an independent curator, art critic, and essayist currently living in Miami. She is a former researcher and curator at the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales (Development Center of Visual Arts) and a former professor at the Instituto Superior de Arte (Higher Institute of Art), both in Havana. She is passionate about contemporary art, Latin American art, and new technology. Her articles on art practices are regularly published in Art Nexus, Art Pulse, Arte al Dia, Art Experience: NYC, and El Nuevo Herald, among others.