Giant wall-length posters of a dark red, black, and gold Shepard Fairey illustrations dressed the building’s naked-white exterior outside of the white-washed warehouse that transforms into a colorful festival of galleries for Art Wynwood once a year.
Heatscape by Miami City Ballet. (Photo by Daniel Azoulay)
At this year’s concoction of artistic magic captured on a permanent record (canvas, flat-screen television, or 3D object), Art Wynwood, Shepard Fairey was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Frank Shepherd Fairey came to prominence in the public eye with his 2008 illustration “Hope,” which featured Barack Obama and has become an iconic portrait. His artwork now is a collector’s dream and people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to possess it. Here, his posters wallpapered the building. Even better, the artist’s designs formed the back drop of the stage for the Miami City Ballet’s dance performance “Heatspace.”
Fairey designed the set and hot choreographer of the moment, New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck choreographed. Scenes of the ballet with dancers like Shimon Ito, Jeanette Delgado, Patricia Delgado, Jennifer Lauren, and Renan Cerderio played on a flat screen television in a central location at the fair. In short white outfits, their pirouettes, leaps, and poses, their toned nude limbs juxtaposed with the street artist’s red, gold, and black illustrations of birds and tribal designs. This year, the fair’s VIP Preview benefited the Miami City Ballet.
Walking through the halls filled with pop art, the “I could have totally done that” art, and graffiti protest shouts, there is art- the kind of art one might buy to decorate their home: colorful, vibrant with the familiar shapes of a woman, flower or moon. Not everyone has giant shiny pastel colored condoms on their walls. Cuban Art was also a highlight this year with Cernuda Arte leading the way as the major gallery to showcase art from Cuban masters including Rene Portocarrero, Mario Carreno, Victor Manuel Garcia.
The gallery also hosted a talk on Saturday, Feb. 18, entitled: “Cuban Art in the 20th Century-Cultural Identity and the International Avant Garde.”
The exhibit puente/bridge additionally highlighted the works of Cuban artists from inside and outside the island nation. Dayron Gonzalez’s “Freedom is an Idea” definitely caught the eye because of his impressive use of primary colors and dramatic brushstrokes on silhouetted forms.
Some other fair highlights included David Ramirez Gomez’s work, which is characterized by the presence of ominous white teeth. The artist had a traumatic accident when he was riding his bike. He lost most of his teeth and went through an arduous recovery. Most of his images represent this experience. A character with enormous eyes that express shock is present in the self-portraits. Unfittingly large teeth coincide with an elongated head and a Cro-Magnon-man alien forehead. The disproportionate limbs exude convoluted movements and poses, which express fear and uncertainty. The colors are striking, vivid and primary: red, blue, yellow, black and white. His pieces were some of the most impressive of the entire fair. They are reminiscent of the noted Basquiat because of their childlike quality.
All of the above would certainly be categorized as the Wonderful but only some works are both the Strange and the Wonderful. Monique Lassooij’s paintings are some examples. In her newest collection “Selfies,” she represents the infamous picture taking phenomenon of the 21st century. Her subjects all have the same wide-eyed, eerie peering eyes, best exemplified in her portrait of Dali, known for his large strange look. Is it innocence that she captures so well through the characters’ eyes? Most of the figures in her paintings are children, so it is possible that innocence is part of the underlying theme that makes them so relatable, recognizable and memorable. She also uses characteristic grey, red, black and white shades to create a classic, unique, and timeless effect. She is certainly one to put on your list of collectibles.
Back to those giant, shiny pastel pink, yellow, blue, and green condoms. Those pieces are courtesy of artists Beau Dunn. They definitely stood out as the Absurd, much like the giant pepperoni pizza at last year’s show. But, context is everything and I imagine they might be a great adornment at a nightclub or sex shop.