When local gallery Guccivuitton announced it had changed its name to Versace Versace Versace, it sent a clear sign to the Miami art scene: This was a new type of gallery, interested in the art and art-marketing of the future. Its most recent exhibit, "To Love a Picture Like a Fetishist Loves a Shoe," is the first solo show by one of the gallery's five founders, Loriel Beltran. Delving into themes such as commercialism, pop, and their intersects with high art, the exhibition reflects a cross between creativity and advertorial.
The show comprises a series of 25 found photographs that Beltran has manipulated with a thick brush to create dense and abstract forms. It speaks to the complex nature of living in a society soaked in marketing material. Beltran paints over each image, subtly augmenting or in some cases obscuring them. The result is a fusion of mass-produced and reproduced images, and Beltran's strangely indelible brushstrokes.
The images he uses for his pieces are discarded spreads from high-end magazines such as Elle, W, and Vogue. As traditional symbols of excess, the photos and text for these publications are expertly designed, curated, and edited by elites. Yet Beltran suggest that what seems like unquestionable institutions of class are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
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The artist is drawn to the heightened symbolism of the magazine pages. Though they're propped up as archetypes for the masses, the photographs he employs are deprived of true meaning beyond their superficial commercial purpose.
For the native Venezuelan, this exhibit at Versace Versace Versace comes after more than a decade of working in the States. After graduating from Miami's Design and Architecture Senior High School in 2003, he went on to earn a BFA from New World School of the Arts in 2007. His work has slowly been shown at museums, galleries, and collections around town. Most recently, he was featured at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the De La Cruz Collection, and Pérez Art Museum Miami.
"To Love a Picture Like a Fetishist Loves a Shoe" marks a continuation of his work, which he often sources from leftover luxury materials. By abstracting advertising pieces, he attempts to subvert not only the power of imagery but also the audience's personal views of those images.
"To Love a Picture Like a Fetishist Loves a Shoe"
On view at Versace Versace Versace through Saturday, March 26. Gallery hours are Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment.