Art Capsules

Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum

Through November 2. Lowe Art Museum, 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535, www.lowemuseum.org

Not your garden-variety tomb raider or occultist crackpot, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie became known as the father of Egyptian archaeology. Today his discoveries can be found in more than 120 museums across the globe. He made great breakthroughs in field excavation and invented a sequence-dating method that enabled reconstruction of history from ancient remains. This exhibit at the Lowe captures Petrie's life and times and features 221 of the scholar's finds. The show includes a treasure trove of sculptures, jewelry, pottery, painted vessels, and mummy portraits, as well as objects used in everyday life. They offer a tantalizing window into the ancient Egyptians' level of sophistication. The exhibition sprawls across the development of Egyptian archaeology from its infancy in the 1880s to the present day, and covers dozens of the sites on which Petrie worked.


20th-Century Works on Paper from the Fundación Mapfre Collection: Picasso, Tàpies, Miró, and Others

Through November 2. Bass Museum of Art 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach 305-305-673-7530, www.bassmuseum.org

From expressive figurative illustrations to abstract geometrics and surrealist musings, this show boasts 80 works by Spain's renowned masters and artists from other countries whose careers were affected by that nation. The sprawling exhibit is an introduction to some of Spain's lesser-known talent, as well as a primer on the brighter lights who soared to international stature during an era when the tension between figuration and abstraction ruled the course of art. It Could Occur at Any Moment, a mystifying surrealist work by José Caballero, suggests Spain's hidden history of religious corruption. The spooky drawing is one of the most compelling on exhibit and a strong argument for catching amazing works by artists seldom on view. More often than not, it's the obscure names rather than the headliners who steal this show.


Collapsing Inwards

Through November 11. Kevin Bruk Gallery, 2249 NW First Pl., Miami 305-576-2000, www.kevinbrukgallery.com

Christian Curiel's paintings, drawings, and sculptures in "Collapsing Inwards" bring to mind the creepy old drive-in movie monster from The Blob. The youngsters in his work interact with a Pepto-Bismol-pink bloblike presence, hinting at unspoken adolescent conflicts. The slick, bright surfaces of the painted scenes belie their quixotic imagery, allowing them to worm deeply into the viewer's skull. Rather than implying a narrative, Curiel's moody passages seem disparate, vaguely connected by a fuzzy, self-reflective trawl of memories or cryptic fragments of childhood. The results are riveting in an oddly discomfiting way. The Procession, a large oil-on-canvas piece, depicts a group of boys on a frozen pond carrying a Kraken-like mass of entrails as several girls shimmy in a conga line in the background. The enigmatic nuance of Curiel's figures and his beguiling mix of curiosity, innocence, and aching exude an unmistakable sense of loss.


Saturated

Through November 15. Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 194 NW 30th St., Miami 305-573-2130, www.galerieperrotin.com

Once you get beyond the sugar rush of Kaws's playful paintings at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, what stays with you is the painstaking manner in which they were made. "Saturated" marks the first solo show since 2002 for the graffiti rat turned artist and designer. It features nearly a dozen boldly colored acrylic-on-canvas works depicting Kaws's wacky interpretations of the SpongeBob SquarePants and Smurfs cartoons. KawsBob 1 is a large acrylic-on-canvas painting depicting the familiar yellow sponge dork holding a finger under his nose as he is about to sneeze. Kaws's version of the pockmarked character includes bony protuberances on either side of his head and crossed-out eyes, both typical of the artist's work. After viewing the repeated SpongeBob and Smurf imagery, some spectators might fail to savor a sense of originality or irony in Kaws's work. But others would counter that Kaws is a legit pop phenom worthy of Roy Lichtenstein's mantle or that he's a talented oracle able to assimilate and regurgitate mass culture with a vision uniquely his own.


Axiom

Through November 15. Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 194 NW 30th St., Miami; 305-573-2130, www.galerieperrotin.com, Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Conrad Shawcross bathes viewers in a dizzying wash of light with Slow Arc Inside a Cube II. The kinetic Rube Goldberg-like contraption consists of a robotic arm with a light attached that’s trapped inside a wire mesh chicken coop. As the spectator walks around it, the gizmo spins like a rotisserie chicken, casting chainlink-like shadows on the floor, ceilings, and walls of the room. The work is part of “Axiom,” the British sculptor’s first solo show at Perrotin. The artist has arranged several powder-coated aluminum, nylon, and stainless-steel bolt pieces reminiscent of a geometric cube expanding outward into space. Lattice Cube 1 is a tightly compacted grouping of right angles arranged into tetrahedrons. In Lattice Cube 4, the structure spreads outward, not unlike a science model illustrating the three-dimensional properties of space. Tetra Helix Tower, soaring to the rafters at the gallery entrance, looks like a DNA strand. Shawcross effortlessly melds principles from science and mathematics, creating provocative, elegant hybrids that speak as much of an interest in the physics of space as in the abstract representation of it.


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