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You know fine art has become mainstream when an ad agency picks up on it, the way the Airwalk commercials made monks cool and signified a larger arrival of Buddhism in the pop consciousness.
This year Art Basel, with its many satellite fairs and citywide happenings, shamelessly joins the vulgar beauty of marketing. La Comunidad an ad agency launched by José and Joaquín Mollá in 2000 that boasts clients such as Citibank, MTV, and Rolling Stone is christening a new 20,000-square-foot, 24-foot-high-ceilinged office space in Wynwood with an exhibition of three international artists: Carlos Betancourt, Ivo Vergara, and Federico Uribe.
Appropriately enough, Betancourt, who likes to put himself on mugs, towels, stickers, and T-shirts, is a kind of Cuban-Puerto Rican-American Andy Warhol. At La Comunidad, Betancourt will display one of his best works yet: Cut-Out Army, 80 larger-than-life-size photo-statues epitomizing what the artist calls "vulgar beauty."
Chilean-born Ivo Vergara's site-specific installation will typify his work: amorphous paintings that look like dancing cells and amoeba, as if inspired by old anatomy and physiology textbooks. He will fill a room of the gallery with wall and floor paintings and then back-light them to create a 3-D effect.
Uribe's installation, Human Nature, is made of 1000 Puma sneakers. "The fact that Puma is donating the footwear puts them in an interesting place in advertising," says Joaquín Mollá. According to the ad exec, Uribe had an idea that this jungle of sneakers would make a point: Factories destroy the jungle to make shoes; Uribe destroys the shoes to make a jungle.