One of the foremost contemporary Cuban artists, Carlos Luna, is part of a generation of artists who embrace their strong Cuban heritage and traditions but have reinvented themselves along the way.
Luna's exhibition at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at F.I.U is organized by guest curator Dr. Barbaro Martinez Ruiz and showcases Luna's cross-pollination of influences from living and working in Cuba until 1991, then in Mexico for 13 years, and now in Miami since 2002.
His exhibition, "Green Machine," in the museum's Grand Galleries, features more than 120 artworks, most shown for the first time and some created in new mediums he has been experimenting with during the past four years. These include Jacquard tapestries and works on metal sheets with patina and aluminum leaf, plates created in Puebla, Mexico; mixed media on paper and on wood; and his large-scale oil on canvas paintings.
The exhibition's title alludes to the importance of the rain forest known as El Monte, a sacred space in the Afro-Cuban tradition one must enter to find meaning. The machine represents the mechanism that perpetuates life's continuity. Combined, these ideas represent the artist leaving behind his rural past and his contemplative journey into the present moment.
"Citing Rufino Tamayo and Wifredo Lam as major influences, Carlos Luna tells stories and relates fables that are culturally attuned to shifts in the social and political environments of the three countries where he has lived and created art," said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, Director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum - FIU, "and the humanity that makes these places so vibrant."
The towering centerpiece of the exhibition, El Gran Mambo, is a massive six-panel painting chronicling the artist's own story.
"El Gran Mambo tells the story of my journey through three countries," says Luna, adding that music passionately fuels his creative process while he’s painting. "The musicality and rhythm of El Gran Mambo are powerful elements of this centerpiece." Luna also cites as his artistic influences the musical masters Benny More and Ismael Rivero.
According to guest curator Barbaro Martinez Ruiz, the exhibition at the Frost Art Museum - FIU draws upon Cuba's rich, oft-forgotten rural culture and popular wisdom, plus Afro-Cuban religious traditions.
The work itself teems with edgy political commentaries, delivering a verbal-visual punch to map his journey with proverbs, riddles and graffiti-like scrawls.
"The best artist is the one who makes his art a science," adds Luna. "And the best scientist is the one who makes an art of his science."
Adds Carlos Luna: "The United States is a country with immigrants from everywhere, and this gives me the opportunity to be in contact with the world."
This exhibition is made possible with the support of Bacardi North America, Siempre Viva Art Foundation, and the Israel, Rose, Henry and Robert Wiener Charitable Foundation in Honor of Dr. Carol Damian.
The work will be on view through September 13. The Museum is located at 10975 S.W. 17th Street, across from the Blue Garage and adjacent to the Wertheim Performing Arts Center on F.I.U.'s Modesto A. Maidique Camplus. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5. Admission is free. For more information, visit TheFrost.FIU.edu or call 305-348-2890.
Carlos Luna, Bailaora
Jacquard tapestry - 101 x 85 inches
Publisher, Magnolia Editions
Carlos Luna, Round Plate
Talavera Ceramics - 17 inches diameter
Produced by Talavera Santa Catarina
Carlos Luna, El Gran Mambo / The Great Mambo
Oil on canvas - 144 x 192 inches
(6 pieces 72 x 64 inches)
CCG Art Collection
Carlos Luna, Catalina's Mirror
Jacquard Tapestry - 81 x 71 inches
Publisher, Magnolia Editions