The Art of Painting: Malcolm Morley's exhibit at MoCA features more than 30 large works dating from the Sixties. The twists and turns of the artist's formative years pepper his paintings. Born in England in 1931, Morley ran away from home at the age of fifteen and later served a two-year stretch in London's infamous Wormwood Scrubs prison. In 1984 Morley was the first recipient of the prestigious Turner Prize for British artists, twisting the adage that crime doesn't pay. Marking a return to his superrealist works of the Sixties, his most recent canvases dynamically portray athletes in action. Perhaps the most stunning painting in this exhibit is Death of Dale Earnhardt, which dramatically depicts the demise of the legendary NASCAR champion. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through April 16. MoCA, 770 NE 125 St., North Miami; 305-893-6211, www.mocanomi.org.
Modelo para Armar/Easy-to-Build: Ruben Torres Llorca has staged what he terms a thriller in the guise of a fairy tale. And no shit, Sherlock, he wants us to solve the crime. His bilingual exhibit is structured in a nonlinear fashion that invites multiple readings and challenges the spectator to draw their own conclusions from what appears to be a cinematically charged plot line. The deadpan conceptualist is known for his methodical, dry-witted delivery and for a Faustian mix of language, images, and objects offering honed critical commentaries on art, culture, and politics. This exhibit is likewise freighted with literary references. Greeting viewers in Torres Llorca's convoluted world of deception and intrigue is a Lewis Carroll quotation via a rabbit in a waistcoat: "The only consistency you can expect from me is that I did and will do everything possible to disappoint you." Meandering from work to work, one wonders if the culprit hinted at in the artist's allegory is not the art world itself. No matter which angle you approach his woeful tale from, Torres Llorca seems to be screaming he wants out of a hole. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through March 19. Frost Art Museum, Charles Perry Building, Florida International University, SW 107th Ave., Miami; 305-348-2890, visit www.frostartmuseum.org.
Paris, Barcelona, and Miami: This exhibit at David Castillo's recently opened, eponymously named gallery features a handful of works by the Cuban vanguard generation, anchored by an unusual piece from modern master Wifredo Lam that has never before been publicly displayed. Eschewing the sardines-in-a-can approach of shoehorning dozens of paintings into a catchall exhibit, Castillo has elegantly displayed nine works in the main gallery. Completing the second part of the show in an adjacent room is contemporary Cuban artist Quisqueya Henríquez's multidisciplinary installation Intertextualidad. All the works on display originate from what Castillo terms "one of the world's most important collections of the genre." Trs Niñas (Three Girls), painted by Fidelio Ponce de León in 1937, is among the show's more arresting pieces. The work teeters between the genuinely ugly and seductively compelling and lingers on the senses with mystical undertones. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through March 31. David Castillo Modern and Contemporary Art, 2234 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-8110, www.castilloart.com.
"The Art of Painting"
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Vik Muniz: Reflex: On a recent Friday afternoon, squadrons of turkey buzzards circled the Claude Pepper Federal Building while a skywriting plane created childlike pictures of clouds in the pristine blue sky. The ephemeral work, Cloud Cloud, was part of Muniz's latest exhibit, which features more than 100 large-scale photographs the Brazilian artist created from a stupefying grab bag of materials. Since 1988, the artist has reconstructed well-known images from history, the media, and popular culture using dirt, sugar, chocolate syrup, diamonds, junk, string, and ketchup. It's not every day that one stumbles across B-movie monsters made from caviar. Most effective are his poignant works rendered in sugar that depict the children of sugar-cane plantation workers. The pieces are exquisite and convey the artist's haunting sense of sorrow and unease at the specter of hopelessness with which these children exist. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through May 28. Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000, www.miamiartmuseum.org.