Genius of Despair

Photographer Luis Brito pays homage to a Latin American art god at this Design District show.

Hulian has added to the tenebrous nature of Reverón's macabre, mummified molls by painting the gallery walls a velvety squid-ink black. Against this backdrop, Brito's pictures pop out, giving the dolls a discomfiting psychological depth that sears the brain.

Brito's arresting collection of images depicts one red-wigged dummy with pomegranate-stained bee-stung lips. She wears a crystal necklace and a shiny purple halter top. The doll's pumpkin-orange organza skirt is hiked up to reveal deformed gams and putrid vaginal flaps. A bright studded ring twinkles on one of her stubby toes. She gazes at the viewer through what look like dead fish eyes.

Another doll is posed regally with a headband keeping her stringy blue coif in place. She is garbed in a richly patterned red, white, and blue Indian frock.

Details

"Reverón's Dolls": Through May 2. Leonard Tachmes Gallery, 3930 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-417-1292; artdealermiami.com Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

Other photos show Reverón's dolls cradling his imaginary offspring. "It's very strange," Hulian observes. "Some of them are carrying blond babies, and then all of the sudden you see one with a black child."

The exhibit is enhanced by a silent 12-minute, black-and-white video of Reverón working at his legendary lair. In it, the artist paints and interacts with his beloved rag figures in makeshift plays.

There is also a scene in which he takes off in a canoe while staring at the sun. "Reverón was very ritualistic in his approach to art," Hulian explains. "He believed that by gazing at a source of light, it would clear his sight to see pure color."

In 2007, New York's Museum of Modern Art hosted a retrospective of Reverón's work. The artist became only one of four Latin American modernists to have a solo show at the museum.

The exhibit included only one of Reverón's dolls, which some might consider odd given the role they played in inspiring his late work.

At the Leonard Tachmes Gallery, Jorge Hulian has peeled back the veil on Reverón's mystifying world with a deftly curated and engaging exhibition of Luis Brito's haunting pictures. It is not to be missed.

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