Daring the impossible, José Bedia, Luis Gomez, and Fabián Peña are challenging how audiences think about art in Squaring the Circle, one exhibition in a constellation of exciting pop-ups taking place in the Miami Design District during Miami Art Week.
Exploring the shift from conventional art-making to new media such as installation, photography, sculpture and video, these artists are especially interested in the interaction between the artwork and the viewer, and how the Western canon—a dominant framework for understanding—fails to provide a holistic approach for viewing non-traditional work. In many ways, Squaring the Circle is a pedagogical study in social practice.
Rooted in “New Cuban Art,” which emerged in the 1980s following the landmark Volumen Uno show in Havana, this genre is known for championing a departure from stereotypical references or stylized norms. In Rachel Weiss’ book “To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art,” she describes the Mariel emigration of 125,000 Cubans in April 1980, the loss of political innocence that followed, and the counter-intuitive twists, themes and materials proposed by artists as a response to the times.
José Bedia was acutely informed by the Afro-Cuban experience and his socio-cultural context, and by extension, influenced the famed Wilfredo Lam and a generation of creatives. Born in 1959 in Havana, Cuba and currently based in Miami, he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “San Alejandro” and received his degree from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. In 1978, he participated in several collective exhibitions, namely the aforementioned Volumen Uno at The Signs Gallery in New York, which was then selected for the Cubans exhibition in the first and second Havana Biennial at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Luis Gomez was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba, and continues to be interested in power relations. For him, art is a process that occurs during the encounter between the spectator’s experience and the artwork—a key moment that informs his installations and use of space. Gomez graduated in 1991 from the High Institute of Art in Havana (ISA), where is currently the Chair of their New Media Lab. His work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, at the Venice Biennial, and in major cities across the United States.
Born in 1976 in Havana, Cuba and now based in Miami, Fabián Peña graduated from the Superior Institute of Arts in Havana in 2003, and worked as part of the curatorial duo, “Elsoca & Fabian” (1999 – 2007), and with a group of artists in the “Colectivo Enema” (2000 – present). He’s participated in numerous performances, videos and multimedia events in Latin America, the United States, and in Europe, and is a 2016 recipient of the Grants & Commissions Program from the Cisneros-Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO). More recent solo exhibitions in Miami have included Dimensions Variable and David Castillo Gallery.
Squaring the Circle opens on November 18 from 6 – 10 p.m., and will be on view through December 4 during Miami Art Week at 3930 NE 2nd Avenue, Suite 201 in the Melin Building. For more information, visit the website at squaringthecircleproject.com.
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