By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Cupid became a cue for creative contemplation in February. On Valentine's Day Sherry Gaché presented Real Love, a performance and installation display of blown-up multilingual love letters, at a handsomely refurbished Green Door Gallery. Put aside your conventional idea of love and enjoy four couples as they unabashedly make out to music by U2 and Ol' Blue Eyes. The heartfelt engagement of her performers makes the event look sexy, charming, and real. Gaché will be performing Real Love again on Friday, March 8, at 9:00 p.m.
More than just an infant carrying a bow and arrows who inflames passion in his victims, Cupid also can be ironic and deceptive -- as when he wears Mars's armor. This is the gist of "The Seducer's Diary" at ArtCenter/South Florida. The exhibition brings together the works of four Miami artists borrowing from an excerpt of Kierkegaard. From figuration to abstraction, they ponder the relationship among art, love, and the creative process.
Carlos de Villasante is a cerebral storyteller who mixes personal narratives with sparse geometric designs. Characters express ambivalence while posed in Dionysian and Apollonian ideals of beauty and desire. With deliberate use of flat, bright colors (red, green, yellow, light blue) and fabric collage, Villasante suggests obsessive yet controlled emotional states.
Villasante may depict himself as an aloof two-headed figure, fraught with cautious feelings for his goddesslike muse, but his art is not aloof. Notice the figures' contours coming out of and receding behind the geometric background, as if proscribed by some fortuitous influence.
Also figurative is the work of Rebecca Guarda, who comes up with variations on a theme depicting emotional thresholds. We see a number of little paintings of an old-fashioned female hand puppet: full figure, hands up, or simply in closeups. The artist tries to point to the limits of freedom when ruled by a hand-master. What is the line between parody and authenticity? Guarda's bittersweet art deals with meaningful issues using modest means.
The paintings of Vincent Hemphill show texture and movement: Broadly sketched abstract designs fuse colorful collections of minute oval-shaped patterns. Hemphill's composition takes shape when one stands further away from it. Outside the gallery is Untitled, a large, spontaneously rendered triptych representing an anthropomorphic shape filled with wide but delicate brushwork. At the border of abstraction, Hemphill's art remains pleasingly odd and complex.
The art of Ramon Fernandez-Bofill fits into the never-ending debate between ornament and substance. The Miami-based artist knows how much soft calligraphy in open color fields is required to achieve his look. In spite of the tensions between form and content, the best part of Fernandez-Bofill is his contained anguish, expressed by frantic semicircular gestures and motions ready to risk betraying careful symmetry.
"Eggs from the Same Plate," by local artist Orestes Marcelo, has a different meaning. Eggs have been the protein staple in Cuban food for four decades. The artist exploits the egg as an allegory for aesthetics, politics, and revolt at Roberto Reyes's Pro-Arte Moderno. Eggs (huevos) can convey testicles, but he also uses them to represent the testosterone-fueled actions of Caribbean machismo. In an impromptu performance, Marcelo, a mime and artist, exposed himself to make a point about the meaning of cojones.
The "sunny side" account of eggs in Marcelo's work takes in all of humanity, from annihilation to transformation to redemption. By combining art and craft, Marcelo takes us through art history. You can follow Constructivism, Dada, collage, and other movements in his egg visions.
"Movimientos de Escape," a suggestive collection of work that explores people's stories through movement, is Pablo Soria's exhibition of film transparencies at Ambrosino Gallery. Soria's human shadows can be seen as humanity in seclusion. The bigger works show softly distorted, genderless silhouettes, maybe initiating a dance, dressed in wirelike lace skirts. The smaller series also is about motion; this time the forms are perhaps diving (though into what is not known).
The laminated miniature negatives are harnessed with too much stuff (wood, et cetera), perhaps to make a point of superimposing the soft on the hard. Soria's art is meant to make you ponder our present condition, the drama of humanity in the act of trying to escape its fate.