MasterMind 2016 Finalist: Artist Magnus Sodamin Blends Reality With the Fantastical

This year's three MasterMind Award winners — chosen from a group of ten finalists — will be announced this Thursday, February 18, at Artopia, New Times' annual soirée celebrating Miami culture, at the Coral Gables Museum. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.

As a young kid growing up in Darien, Connecticut, not far from New York City, Magnus Sodamin found his first artistic inspiration in places that highlighted nature against the backdrop of an urban environment. To fuel his imagination, he would visit the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. These days, the Miami-based painter heads to the edges of the city and ventures out into the Everglades on his boat just before sunset.

Sodamin’s most recent and arguably most significant project, “Calm Before the Sun,” referenced this personal time. It debuted at Wynwood Walls during Art Basel Miami Beach last year.

Nature may not be the first thing you think of when you take a gander at those huge neon waterfalls blanketing the room and swirling on the floor. The smudged flowers on canvas and slowly shifting lighting (to reflect the passage of time) remind viewers of the brevity of each day, hour, and moment — of their beauty and their impermanence.

Sodamin’s Norwegian mother and Austrian father met on the high seas while they were working on a Cunard cruise ship. Magnus ended up in Coral Gables, again by the ocean, at 12 years old. He began making work as a teenager at MAST Academy.

After a year training in Lillehammer, Norway, he returned home, attending Miami Dade College, where he and a former high-school teacher went mad creating 150 paintings together. He went on to earn his BFA from New World School of the Arts. When artist Typoe saw Sodamin’s BFA show, he brought the young painter into the fold of his popular and cutting-edge gallery, Primary Projects, which he runs with partner Books IIII Bischof.

Sodamin takes a wide view of what constitutes a canvas. He’s begun to paint dancers in neon colors, letting their breathing and moving physiques interact with his work, thus playing with viewers’ eyes and minds. During New Times’ Artopia event, he’ll partner with Marissa Alma Nick (another Mastermind finalist), whose team, under black lights, will bring his work to life.

“In the performance, I will ritualistically paint the dancers as they begin to become more active,” Sodamin explains. “The performance shares with the audience the candid behind-the-scenes blurring, beginning, and end as one act,” he explains.

Sodamin says he’s “in a good spot” careerwise since his Miami Art Week opening. He is moving his studio from Little Haiti to an old pillow factory in Allapattah — the largest space he’s ever employed. He will also be in a group exhibition, “Aesthetics and Values 2016,” at Frost Art Museum in March. He’s expanding outside of Miami too.

In mid-February, Sodamin will be in Los Angeles to help Primary Projects, which has a temporary studio there, expand its geographic scope. Next, he’ll be at Summit’s Artist in Residency program in Utah. In addition to his commissioned projects, he finds time to paint with kids at North Beach Elementary School, a joint project with the de la Cruz Collection.

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