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An '80s vibe with an art deco flair.EXPAND
An '80s vibe with an art deco flair.
Photo by Zachary Balber

Artist Francesco Lo Castro Stages an '80s Dream World at Artechouse

Imagine a world filled with soft pastel tones, calming round edges, and an overall appearance that’s both inviting and relaxing. You can get a taste of that imaginary place at Artechouse’s latest exhibition, "Oracle."

For the first time since its official opening during Art Basel 2018, the Miami Beach gallery is exhibiting the work of a South Florida artist with this new installation by Francesco Lo Castro. The exhibit is done in part by Artechouse’s resident production and technology manager, Ricardo Agudello.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Lo Castro’s installation is its bean bag chairs, inviting audiences to sit and stay a while. “I want people to really spend time with it. Lounge and meditate,” says the artist.

“I’m trying to create this harmonious balance that provides a meditative state to people,” he continues. “I hope that what happens to the audience when they walk in is their shoulders drop, their breathing slows down, and they hopefully take some time to take in the work and meditate on the piece itself.”

Lo Castro was born in Sicily but raised in Germany before moving to Fort Lauderdale when he was 17. His upbringing inspires his work and his choice of color palette, he says.

“Being an immigrant, I’ve had to let go of a lot of things at an early age,” he explains, adding that he uses his art to tap into his memories. He describes his recollections as vivid dreams that appear to him in the form of textures, colors, shapes, and surfaces. “When it’s done, I look at a piece and I feel like I’ve brought about some sort of memory.”

The focal point for the exhibition is a singular painting by Lo Castro, which is also titled Oracle. The artist worked closely with Agudello of Artechouse to select a similar color palette to complement the initial piece, “and all the [interactive] animations were done by using existing shapes from the painting.”

In "Oracle," the artist pays homage to the art deco style of the ‘30s and ‘40s blended with a touch of ‘80s flair. “I’m a child of the ‘80s and I also live in Miami, [where] you can’t really escape the pastel color palettes,” he says with a smile. “My work exists somewhere between the futuristic and the nostalgic.”

Lo Castro explains that the meaning behind his painting is twofold: On the one hand, it’s a nod to legends of ancient oracles who passed down prophecies from the gods; on the other, it’s an expression of the larger connection between nature and technology.

“My work pretty much exists in the world between biology and technology,” says Lo Castro. “I like to think that technology is just a natural extension of the evolution we’re going through. My work just tries to embrace that sort of duality of man.”

"Oracle" might appear at first to be something easily created by a computer program. But look again. All of Lo Castro’s pieces are made intricately by hand. “That’s my way of saying there’s a human factor involved when we talk about technology,” says Lo Castro, “which is really just an extension of who we are.”

Artechouse first opened in November 2018 and is dedicated to bringing together art, science, and technology under one roof. Lo Castro admits he’s not the typical artist that gallery owners Sandro Kereselidze and Tatiana Pastukhova would invite to exhibit. However, the artist draws his inspiration from technology as much as he does from nature. He even paints in a way that is meant to appear as if it was done by machine.

On being the first local artist to exhibit in the Miami Beach space, Lo Castro says, “If I have any hand in bringing some more local attention to Artechouse, I’d be very happy about that. I think Artechouse is a great venue and providing an incredible perspective and a new approach to the way we look at art and the way technology is beginning to fuse it all.”

"Oracle." Through September 2 at Artechouse, 736 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; artechouse.com. Tickets cost $17 to $24 via miami.artechouse.com.

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