Edouard Duval-Carrié's "Imagined Landscapes" Tells Glittering Caribbean History at PAMM

When it comes to the art scene, Miami is still a baby sucking on its mother's teat. Helping nurture it to rapid adulthood, however, is Haitian artist and tropical culture buff Edouard Duval-Carrié. The 59-year-old's newest body of work, "Imagined Landscapes," is now showing at Pérez Art Museum Miami.

"This show is such a knockout," says the director of the museum, Thom Collins.

But long before his 11 large-scale paintings hung on the walls and two chandelier sculptures oscillated from the ceilings of the PAMM expanse, Duval-Carrié had been around the explosive art boom of Basel. He, alongside pictorial greats -- such as José Bedia -- has helped father the community by reinstating historic classics through a cultured modernity.

See also: Edouard Duval-Carrié Goes Local at PAMM

Though his strong fondness for the Sugar Islands of the Caribbean innately defines his stylistic reputation, Duval-Carrié's newest paintings feature darker hues and glittering surfaces, evoking a sense of mysticism in these tapestry-size giants.

"I decided to create a whole new body of work using glitter because nobody has the nerve to paint with glitter glue," the artist says.

Composition and technique aren't the only factors that set the tone of the grandiose exhibition. Location was everything. The artist elected the massive space to properly depict his message of social and political oppression throughout the Caribbean during the 19th Century.

"There were all these questions in my head, and what finally dictated what would happen in this room was the scale of it," he says. "To look at a body of depth that would fill this room in an intelligent way -- it's a very site-specific group of work."

Comparing his work to typical 19th-century paintings, such as those of landscape experts Frederick Church and Martin Johnson Heade, Duval-Carrié contrasts the narrow-minded purview of those artists' outdated mentality. The original paintings once portraying the Caribbean isles as an undisturbed land, insinuating the ideology of a tropical nirvana, hide the hardship of slavery and injustice rampant at the time.

"Yes, the islands were sweet, but behind the sweetness was the blood of millions of slaves who perished, and, of course, that is completely erased from the picture," the artist says.

Instead of lush foliage as the focal point, Duval-Carrié substitutes the romanticism with realistic truths, flushing out the overexposure of optimism because, quite frankly, he's sick of it.

"After living in Europe for ten years, I decided that this was enough. This kind of vision of the world is really annoying."

American imperialism is confronted in his The Landing of Columbus. In it, dark humor moonlights the story of tropical colonialism via Disney and Warner Bros. favorites such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The childhood classics accompany Marie Antoinette and an adamant Christopher Columbus on a conquest to conquer Caribbean soil, while a gunboat floats on the horizon, referencing diplomacy.

Though his paintings are something of a legend, his Caribbean chandelier sculptures undoubtedly steal the show. Resin and plastic make up its primary components, whimsically hued in ranges of purple.

-- Nycole Sariol

Edouard Duval-Carrié's "Imagined Landscapes" is showing at Pérez Art Museum Miami until August 31, 2014.

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