ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables Presents Panoply: Paintings, Photographs and Sculpture
As suggested by its title, Panoply is a wide-ranging selection of more than two dozen colorful abstractions by eleven artists from six countries: the United States, Cuba, England, Egypt, Mexico and Venezuela.
Panoply: Paintings, Photographs and Sculpture, Part I, from May 2 through July 2014, will feature works by Bassmi, Trevor Bell, Bruce Checefsky, Michelle Concepción, Carlos Garcia, Aaron Karp, Aureliano Parra, José Rosabal, Linda Touby, José Angel Vincench, and Suzan Woodruff. Read on…
Nine Cuban artists are featured in The Silent Shout: Voices in Cuban Abstraction 1950-2013, opening 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1st, at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in downtown Coral Gables. Three of the artists are being exhibited in Greater Miami for the first time.
According to Rafael DiazCasas, one of the show’s three curators, “The Silent Shout is the first historical exhibition outside Cuba that includes a variety of Cuban artists of different generations working in abstraction.”
Abstract art was not sanctioned by the Fidel Castro regime and thus was not promoted in any of the country’s major venues until 1997, during the VI Havana Biennial, when the exhibition Pinturas del Silencio featured abstract works “to an extent that had not been achieved since the exhibition Expresionismo Abstracto at Galeria Habana, in 1963,” DiazCasas said.
“The Silent Shout is not a survey exhibition, but rather the product of a curatorial vision taking Pinturas del Silencio as its departure, a continuation of the themes, attitudes and ideas explored in that landmark show,” he noted.
One of the curators of Pinturas del Silencio—José Angel Vincench—is an artist whose work is included in The Silent Shout as well as being one of its three curators. The third curator of The Silent Shout, Janet Batet, wrote the catalog essay for the 1997 exhibition and co-authored, with Rafael DiazCasas, the essay for the catalog for The Silent Shout.
Other artists whose paintings are included in The Silent Shout are Hugo Consuegra, Sandú Darié, Carlos García, Luis Enrique López, Raúl Martínez, Pedro de Oraá, José Rosabal, and Loló Soldevilla.
“Since the 1950s, abstraction has been viewed by Cuban-born artists as an artistic form and movement closely associated with ideals of social engagement,” DiazCasas explained. “The Silent Shout is the first show since Pinturas del Silencio to explore those ideals through works taken from a range of the most significant Cuban abstract artists of the past 60 years.
“This is the first time since 1961 that the works of Darié, Soldevilla, Oraá and Rosabal have been exhibited together, so this is a reunion of a significant part of the “10 Pintores Concretos” group. Also it is the first time that the works of Rosabal, Carlos García and Luis Enrique López have been shown in Miami.
“Darié, Loló, Oraá and Rosabal were members of ‘10 Pintores Concretos;’ Consuegra and Martinez members of ‘Los Once.’ The work of Carlos Garcia built on the avenues opened by Los Once, while Luis Enrique Lopez furthered 10 Pintores Concretos’ language, which uses form as a goal of walking away from any type of representation. Enrique Lopez’s formal approach to the playfulness of light, and the adaptation of the human eye to its perception, is a lucid insight on the social unconscious of today’s Cuban society.
“Vincench’s appropriation of abstraction is more radical because he uses pure forms to comment upon his social concerns, recent Cuban political history and daily life,” DiazCasas concluded.
The Silent Shout is the latest in a series of ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Gallery exhibitions over the past 40 years that have been the first of their kind in the nation or region (see virginiamiller.com/gallery). Located in the heart of the Coral Gables business district at 169 Madeira Ave., the gallery is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment on Saturdays and evenings.
‘American Memories’ by renowned american neo-pop artist Leslie Lew opens may 3rd at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables
Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Wonder Woman, Animal Crackers and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes are some of the subjects of works in “American Memories,” a one-person exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Leslie Lew that opens from 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 3rd at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries.
“Leslie is a contemporary, neo-Pop version of Norman Rockwell,” said ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries’ owner and director Virginia Miller.
“I’m grabbing memories,” says the artist. “Some of these are starting to fade.”
Featuring some of America’s most iconic images, Leslie Lew offers a nostalgic trip back to childhoods ranging from the 1930s to 1970s. Permission from The Walt Disney Company, DC Comics, and the Kellogg Company allows her to re-create comic book covers of America’s most beloved childhood heroes along with perennially favorite breakfast cereals.
“When faced with the legendary things and characters of our youth, rendered with unrestrained enthusiasm, it’s hard not to smile, to remember the pleasure of eating Animal Crackers, toting the box on its little white string; to feel a little girl’s aspiration to be Wonder Woman, and to be transported by cartoon lives—so familiar and yet so unlike our own,” noted Kathy Greenwood, a curator for Albany, NY International Airport’s Art & Culture Programs.
Contributing to the impact of her paintings is the artist’s special technique, which she calls “sculpted oil,” paintings on canvas in high relief to create a three-dimensional effect.
After earning her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, Lew was one of a dozen artists selected to participate in a Whitney Museum studio program. She became a leading artist in New York’s East Village Art Movement, where she was friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat, who introduced her to Andy Warhol at her first opening in New York.
Lew lived and worked in a large Gramercy Park loft just above Julian Schnabel’s. Other well-known artists in the group included Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenny Scharf, and Keith Haring.
“Keith, Jean-Michel and Andy did a show of matchboxes in a pop-up gallery on 6th Street with me and other artists,” she recalls. “I did a painting of the opening, and I put Andy in the corner of it with his little Brownie camera. Andy loved young artists—he was always looking for the next new thing. He helped me a lot, introducing me to all sorts of people. We hung out together.
“I did my version of Andy’s silkscreen, ‘Moon Explorer,’ and he thought it was a hoot. He asked me to do a trade with him—my ‘Moon Explorer’ for one of his ‘Marilyns.’ Then he went into the hospital for a gall bladder operation and he died. I helped to archive all of his work for the foundation.”
Today Lew’s painting of “Moon Explorer” is owned—appropriately—by U.S. astronaut Robert C. “Woody” Spring. Her works are included in dozens of major collections, including those of Si Newhouse, the Tisch Family, Conde Nast, MCA Records, Sylvia Miles and Cyndi Lauper in New York; the Sainsbury Collection in London; and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
“My first painting of ‘Animal Crackers’ is in the lobby where children are admitted to the Mayo Clinic,” she said.
Lew has participated with the superstars of the contemporary art world in a number of other exhibitions. To cite only three:
In 1985 the Holly Solomon Gallery exhibition “57th between A & D” included works by Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, and Roy Lichtenstein with East Village artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Leslie Lew. The following year Lew and Warhol were among the artists in “The East Village” exhibit curated by Richard Martin, editor-in-chief of “Arts Magazine”, at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Lew and Warhol also were in “Small Works by Major Thinkers” in 1986 at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York.
The “Cafe Vered” show at Vered Gallery in East Hampton in 1995 included “Animal Crackers” by Lew along with works by Janet Fish, Audrey Flack, Red Grooms, Donald Lipski, Larry Rivers, Donald Sultan, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, among others.
Lew has exhibited in numerous other prestigious venues, such as Jack Tilton and OK Harris galleries in New York City; the Light Gallery in Los Angeles and Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica; and in a number of museums here and abroad. In Manhattan, for example, her paintings have been included in exhibitions at the Visual Arts Museum, Parsons School of Design, SoHo Center for the Visual Arts, the Henry Street Settlement Museum, and the Alternative Museum. Lew’s paintings have been included in travelling exhibitions of the Carnegie Mellon Museum and Guggenheim Museum in this country and in shows in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Sofia, Bulgaria.
In Miami, Lew is included in the Martin Z. Margulies Collection, “recognized as one of the major collections of contemporary art in the world,” according to Newsweek critic Peter Plagens.
According to critic Peter Frank, “by appropriating two or three generations of imagery, from wartime cartoons to cold-war-era reading primers to the streamlined sci-fi fantasies of the space race, Lew seems to mark off the growth spurts of mid-20th Century America…Lew re-enacts the recent evolution of American visual culture without having to depict it. A child of our time, Leslie Lew has appropriated Pop Art itself.”
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to introduce yet another historically significant artist to our clientele,” said Virginia Miller. “Leslie Lew’s work is an absolute joy.”
“American Memories” will be exhibited at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from May 3rd through July 2013. Along with our opening reception on Friday, May 3rd, additional receptions for this exhibition will be held from 6 to 10 pm on Friday, June 7th and July 5th.
Gallery hours are 11-6 Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays and evenings. For more information, call 305-444-4493 or visit the gallery web site, www.virginiamiller.com.
“A CHILD OF OUR TIME, LESLIE LEW HAS APPROPRIATED POP ART ITSELF.” Peter Frank, Critic and Curator
Pasadena Museum of Art
“LEW’S SUBJECTS ARE WHIMSICAL, NOSTALGIC SNAPSHOTS OF AMERICA’S PAST.” Magdalin Leonardo
Inside Chappaqua Magazine
“AN ENERGETIC, EXUBERANT TREATMENT THAT IS VISUALLY EFFECTIVE.” Phyllis Braff, Critic
The New York Times
ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, which has regularly scheduled exhibitions of master and mid-career Latin American artists since it opened in 1974, has combined the two in a show titled “Latin American Masters of Today and Tomorrow.”
Included are original works by masters Roberto Matta, Amelia Pelaez, Elmar Rojas and Francisco Zuñiga. Mid-career artists represented include the well-known Cuban artists José Bedia, Roberto Fabelo, Manuel Mendive, and José Angel Vincench.
Dominating one gallery wall is “Zintkála Chanupa, Pájaro Pipa,” a 10-foot painting by the internationally renowned Bedia, who took first place in painting at the IV Beijing International Art Biennale last October.
Fabelo is represented by a four-by-five foot watercolor of a mature nude woman wearing a bronze bird-beak war helmet, red high-heeled pumps, and strap-on wings astride a rooster with prominent spurs, a characteristically surreal example of his work.
In his first exhibition at this gallery, Vincench has two four- foot square canvases from his new series on dissidents in his homeland, which will be presented in a solo exhibition starting in November. According to author Darys J. Vázquez Aguiar, “Vincench teaches us the power of words, of the ordinary phrase or the written commentary, of ethical sentences that separate good from evil. Letters are sacred messages, voices repeated through time to remind us that there are such things as eternal truths.”
Included in this show are canvases by Antonio Amaral of Brazil; a collage painting by Victor Chab and two mixed media works by Mateo Arguello Pitt, both from Argentina; oils on linen by Gustavo Schmidt of Chile and Marco Tulio of Colombia; and an important large canvas by Sergio Garval of Mexico.
Schmidt, also making his premiere appearance in an ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries exhibition, is showing a crystal sphere that floats in front of a draping fabric above an arrangement of eggs, a work of magic realism in dreamy tones of mauve.
José Benito of Argentina is represented by a wood construction and two mixed-media assemblage works. One of the latter, the eight-by-five-foot “Obsesiones Privadas,” includes a figure surrounded by slate-gray elements such as an easel, palette and book.
A tabletop sculpture in mahogany, oak, teak and cedar is by Melquiades Rosario Sastre, professionally known as Melquiades. In his article in Arte al Día online, critic Ricardo Pau Llosa calls him “not only Puerto Rico’s most important contemporary sculptor (but also) one of the finest contemporary artists anywhere.”
Paul-Llosa goes on to note that Melquiades has not simply rejected the current theoretical underpinnings of most contemporary art, but “is a thinking man who bases his creativity on reflection and not simply on enacting the dicta of this or that current trend. He is a sculptor of ideas, not an illustrator of passing notions.”
Some of the most important contemporary artists of China will be featured in “Portal: Contemporary Chinese Paintings, Prints, Photos and Sculpture,” an exhibition to open at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7th. Internationally recognized superstars in the show include Zhang Xiaogang, Feng Zhengjie, Yang Qian, Guo Wei, Huang Yan, and Sui Jianguo. Along with a wide selection of serigraphs, the exhibition will include a Plexiglass “throne” chair by Yang Fan.
Zhang is best known for his series called “Big Family” portraits, inspired by old family photos and European surrealism. Their staring, expressionless poses comment on Chinese collectivism while small differences offer a glimpse of their individuality.
Feng Zhengjie, another of the best-known Chinese artists, will be represented by three of his “Chinese Portrait Series” silkscreens. Their exaggerated makeup and flamboyant hairdos reflect the artist’s view that “the influence of the Western culture makes our women appear as hybrids sometimes.”
The multimedia artist Huang Yan superimposes traditional Chinese landscape scenes upon photos of faces and the human body. His fusion of ancient art forms with contemporary views of the body creates a new concept that every Chinese can relate to.
Sui Jianguo, referred to as “a leading figure of China’s New Sculpture movement” in the “China Onward” catalog of the renowned Estella Collection, draws attention “to the political and economic system behind the toy industry” through his “Made in China” series and toy dinosaurs. He views his dinosaurs as parallels to much of the world’s manufacturing: designed in the West, made in China, and then exported globally—not unlike Chinese contemporary art, inspired by Western traditions.
Works by Zhang, Feng and Yan are in the Sigg Collection, widely considered the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of contemporary Chinese art. All three artists were included in “Mahjong,” an important exhibition held in 2009 at the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum, as well as the current “101 Artworks-A Stroll through the Sigg Collection” at 88MOCCA, the Museum of Chinese Contemporary Art on the Web. Both shows were compiled from SIGG Collection artworks.
Along with sculpture by Sui, artworks by Feng, Guo, Huang, and Zhang also are represented in the Estella Collection of Chinese Contemporary Art, first exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark in 2007.
The works by Yang Qian are from his “Bathroom” series, images viewed through a mist of water drops, suggesting the overlapping of reality and illusion, sometimes categorized as “dual paintings.”
Works by Guo Wei focus on everyday life, often with relationships between adolescents, emphasizing the development of individualism in China since the homogenization of the Cultural Revolution.
Leading print and online publications, such as “The Economist,” “The London Times,” and Artprice.com have reported the soaring prices of contemporary Chinese art. Although virtually all art prices recently dropped somewhat as the worldwide economy sagged, the media have reported that contemporary Chinese art prices are leading their resurgence.
“Some of the artists in this show are stellar,” said gallery owner and curator Virginia Miller. “For example, in October 2007 Charles Saatchi, one of the world’s great collectors, paid $1,570,800 for a painting by Zhang Xiaogang. In 2006 one of his paintings sold for $2.3 million.”
“This will be our fourth exhibition of contemporary Chinese art,” Miller noted. “These works offer an exceptional opportunity to acquire original works by some of China’s leading artists.”
Included in “Portal” will be paintings by artists who were represented in earlier Chinese shows at the gallery, including Wang Niandong and Cao Xiaodong. Wang is well known in China and abroad for hyper-realistic images of women as commercialized products. Cao, one of the many artists forced to become graphic artists during the Cultural Revolution, contrasts that era’s uniforms with Playboy bunnies and Mao Zedong with Hugh Hefner. His paintings are rendered in Ben Day dots reminiscent of the screens for printing old newspaper photos.
A number of works in the exhibition will be serigraphs. Serigraphs, the art of printing multiple images through screens originally made of silk, originated in China more than a thousand years ago. The technique became popular with artists throughout history due to its versatility. In recent years the market for limited-edition serigraphs by contemporary artists soared; in 2010 a serigraph by Andy Warhol sold for $63,362,500.
Visualize, Actualize, and Materialize:
21st Century Chinese Neo-Pop Art
As evidenced throughout art history, what was once deemed radical and undesirable gradually moves into the mainstream through defiant thinking. New generations of artists assimilate and appropriate ideas from previous movements, only to then rebel and push the boundaries of what is comfortable and familiar even further. Twenty-first century China is now in the throes of such a cultural revolution. We are witness to the transition from the initial group of Chinese contemporary artists and their post-Great Leap style, to the current rise of a new Chinese neo-pop visual language.
Similar to the counter-culture that spawned American pop art, Chinese social and political issues as well as their overwhelming youth population are the foundations of the 21st Century Neo-Pop movement. Much like America’s baby-boom generation that came of age in the 1960s, China’s one-child generation is breaking ground toward political and personal emancipation. During this time of unprecedented affluence, the cult of media-driven narcissism is reflected in work of this current crop of young artists. This new cultural freedom propels each artist’s creation of new images, objects and ideas.
Although pop art has been historically associated with Western culture and America in particular, the political, social and artistic magnitude of the current movement continues to challenge this young generation of Chinese artists with similar momentum to forge ahead into unexplored territory.
Pierrette Van Cleve
Curator, Van Cleve Fine Art