By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Cristina Lei Rodriguez: Multihued like liquid acid dreams, Cristina Lei Rodriguez's series of three gleaming "Experimental Garden" sculptures are cunning representations of her imagined artificial paradises. Luscious eye candy titillates the senses; thin crystal raindrops hang in the negative space above each separate geographical region: glossy banana trees, orchids, and bougainvilleas in the tropics; spiny finger and barrel cactus in the desert; fountains and bamboo gardens in the Japanese-inspired setting. Rodriguez's work is very ornamental -- almost decorative at times -- yet she pulls it off by not trying to re-create nature but rather offering a visually interesting and fanciful likeness of it. -- Omar SommereynsThrough March 30. Rocket Projects, 3440 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-6082, www.rocket-projects.com.
Divine Intervention: Magnus Sigurdarson likes to tinker with our feelings about iconic images. In his "digital drawings" of Che, Marx, and Stalin, for instance, viewers will instantly recognize these portraits even though they're rendered somewhat hazy by a meticulous Photoshop arrangement of lines and small red boxes derived from well-known historical pictures. They are technically impressive and prompt us to re-examine our perception of these familiar faces, but Sigurdarson's work has a dry and slightly stiff aesthetic. His "Mao and Björk" series of digital prints features a common portrait of the Icelandic singer/songwriter's face tweaked according to her lyrics, which are marked on the individual pieces; the songs also play from a stereo. Humor and subtlety are the artist's strengths here, as in Violently Happy, in which a small yet spiky tooth slyly protrudes from Mao's mouth. -- Omar SommereynsThrough April 2. Marina Kessler Gallery, 2628 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-6006, www.marinakessler.com.
Fieldworks: Ethereal mystery permeates José Bedia's paintings. His cryptic and long-limbed silhouettes, especially, leave us puzzled, wondering where they came from, whom they represent. These inscrutable but evocative figures populate "Fieldworks," an exhibit of his latest work. The show also includes a site-specific installation that continues Bedia's exploration of nautical imagery. Here Conté pastel cargo ships are drawn on a gray wall. On the floor is a bird's-eye view of a ship's hull, made of bricks and filled with rice; portholes hang high on the wall. It is as engaging as it is enigmatic. In the back room, don't miss Usiki Kirrili, an acrylic of a sixteen-foot-long black panther with lustrous yellow eyes, the backdrop awash in brilliant golden drips. -- Omar Sommereyns Through March 26. Fredric Snitzer Gallery, 2247 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-448-8976.
Imaginary Maze of the Bare Substance: The current work of French artist Gérard Vachez consists of intricate compositions that are interesting mainly for their conceptual value. He begins by blending mixed media (oil paints and India inks, plus fibers and wool) on square-inch acetates, sometimes scratching or burning the surface, then digitally scanning the pieces to create large-scale prints that magnify the miniature paintings as if seen through a microscope. The show is thoughtfully installed, guiding the viewer by hanging the original plastic slides in preservation glass (Altuglas) near the prints. Imagination runs wild while examining the amount of detail and nuance that results from such a huge boost in scale. -- Omar SommereynsThrough April 4. Damien B. Contemporary Art Center, 282 NW 36th St., Miami; 305-573-4949.
It Makes Me Happy: Frances Trombly's installation work exudes an exquisite fragility and is also amusing, smart, and colorful. Her woven realizations take us to the extremes of credible reality in the context of consumer accessories associated with gift-giving, celebrations, and parties. Lusciously knitted bow ties, a roll of gift-wrapping paper, colorful bursts of confetti on the floor, woven balloons, ribbons in red, green, yellow, and blue on the wall below -- all are obsessively and painstakingly crafted with such precision that some viewers are fooled into thinking these are the real objects. You can see some Sixties conceptualism, a bit of Arte Povera, and even a hint of Minimalism. But Trombly's vision makes for a language all her own. -- Alfredo Triff Through April 16. Leonard Tachmes Gallery, 817 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-895-1030.
Museum of Contemporary Art: "Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Time" and "Ellen Gallagher: Murmur and DeLuxe" link the kindred spirits of two iconoclastic artists in an exceptional exhibition. Both Bourgeois and Gallagher draw inspiration from the grid, a seminal modernist motif, and their collective subject matter addresses the plight and power of the misfit and the alien, the child and the black-skinned person. Gallagher mines and satirizes the perplexing range of cosmetic options available to African Americans from the Thirties to the Sixties. Bourgeois, an explorer and innovator in the experimental arenas of installation and performance art, shows no signs of retiring at the astonishing age of 94. From the apparent simplicity of such fundamentals as figure, bust, red, black, and blue, Bourgeois uncovers depth, density, and intensity like very few artists of any recent generation. -- Michelle Weinberg Through March 27. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211.
Permanent Collection: Some may frown on Tim Davis's photographs of famous paintings. For one thing, it appears that his camera's flash intrudes upon and harms each masterpiece. However, the artist doesn't use a flash at all, instead relying on the light provided by sources within the museums where the works are housed. Davis shoots them from angles that accentuate the available light and then creates prints that reveal the physique of the paintings. The added beams of light modify our sense of these mostly familiar images. In certain pieces the light reveals texture (the aged paint cracks in Corot's Evocation of Love); in others it alters the figures (notably the child, now resembling a specter, in Monet's Un Coin d'Appartement). But alas these effects are sometimes futile and only blemish the originals. -- Omar SommereynsThrough March 26. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 3900-B NE First Ave., Miami; 305-576-2000.