An eight-foot-tall bronze ballerina appears center stage. She holds a perfect arabesque while the spotlight, like the sun's rays, illuminates her skin. Onstage, she epitomizes beauty, elegance, and grace. But behind her, in the shadows, linger the emotions she leaves backstage.
In his gallery’s second exhibition, "Backstage," the internationally acclaimed visual artist Alexander Mijares celebrates women and their strength, perseverance, and beauty. The Miami native, who has become a favorite of musicians such as Pharrell Williams and Alejandro Sanz, describes his latest collection as an extension of a piece from his standout Art Basel 2018 exhibit, “Alexander.”
“The show that I did for Art Basel last year was mostly black-and-white, and it was more of a story than anything,” Mijares says. “It was to show range and to show a deeper side than just happy art all the time. It was more of an experience than an exhibit. People laughed, cried; it was very emotional. This [exhibit] is like an extension of one of those pieces, telling the rest of the story.”
Known for his bright colors and mosaic-like style, Mijares calls his Hispanic heritage and world travel his main sources of inspiration. ”Growing up in Miami and having family from Cuba and Spain definitely influences a lot of my work,” he says. Aspects of architecture and culture from around the globe can also be seen in his work.
Movement, then — in any sense — is not a new concept for Mijares. It was, in fact, an integral part of his upbringing because his mother was a dancer. “My mother would bring me to the studio, and I would sit and watch in awe as the dancers practiced for hours upon hours,” he remembers. He says he was taken by the beauty of the female body, the movements, and the balance. “I also saw the frustration, tears, anxiety, joy, and many other emotions that are displayed backstage.”
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His latest work draws upon those childhood memories, but it's also a commentary on the social media age. “Just like the ballerinas that hide the pain, anxiety, and tears onstage," he says, "many people portray a perfect life on social media, but behind closed doors, [they] are dealing with life’s issues.”
Mijares says those darker emotions will be reflected in oil paintings surrounding the exhibit's centerpiece: a bronze sculpture of a ballerina named for his mother, Aida. “There’ll be some pieces that I did in a different style — more of a rough, aggressive type of style than normal — to portray the emotion that goes behind these dancers. I feel like painting these pieces clean with a nice brush doesn’t give that gritty roughness that’s required. It’s very raw.”
From sculpture to painting and inspiration from childhood memories to modern technology, "Backstage" will show the breadth of Mijares' skills as an artist. “I have never done anything this big before,” he says. “When I first started off as an artist, I had reached out to a few galleries and they kind of brushed me off. [Now] I have a gallery opening every day. Every time I post a photo, it’s like I just opened my doors to the world.”
Alexander Mijares' "Backstage." 7 to 11 p.m. Thursday, September 26, at Mijares Art Gallery, 27 NW 25th St., Miami; mijares.com. Admission is free.