Beatriz Milhazes and Mario Garcia Torres Show Boldly at the Pérez Art Museum
Check out the Beatriz Milhazes retrospective and new work by Mario Garcia Torres.
Now celebrating its first birthday in its new home, the Pérez Art Museum Miami is showing off the place with North America’s first Beatriz Milhazes retrospective, which debuted in September. There’s also an exhibition of all-new work by Mexican artist Mario Garcia Torres, which opened yesterday—just in time for Art Basel in Miami Beach.
The museum, known also by its acronym, PAMM, began introducing new programming in August, leading to what director Thomas Collins called a “crescendo at this moment, for Art Basel and beyond” at a small press briefing held yesterday. Over the past year, the museum has reportedly exceeded attendance projections by more than 150 percent and seen a surge in membership.
Part of PAMM’s success is major exhibitions, like last year’s “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” and the current “Beatriz Milhazes: Jardim Botânica,” on view through January 11. Named after the Rio De Janeiro neighborhood where the Brazilian artist keeps her studio, the title, which means “botanical garden,” is meant to evoke both the beauty and the scientific study that characterizes such institutions.
“Beatriz’s work has both an exuberance, with very decorative elements, as well as geometry and a very rational approach to painting,” curator Tobias Ostrander told artnet News.
Over the course of her career, Milhazes has moved away from more representative elements, such as lace, flowers, and bead work, embracing intense fluorescent color, circular optical forms, and the dense linear patterns that characterize Latin American kinetic art by artists such as Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez.
The show’s large scale canvases are pure eye candy, a riotous explosion of color that is enhanced by a small selection of enticing glittering collages. Milhazes has created three new pieces for PAMM to accompany work that dates back to the early 1990s.
Also of note is the mini-exhibition “R.R. and the Expansion of the Tropics” (on view through April 19) in which Garcia Torres has taken over a small space on the museum’s first floor with an exploration of Robert Rauschenberg’s artistic practice as it related to his longtime home in the Miami area. The project is meant to move beyond the “preconceptions of what the work of someone living in the tropics should be,” explained the artist at the press briefing. Garcia Torres was inspired by a visit to Rauschenberg’s home, which he found “didn’t match with my idea of his work.”
The jumping-off point is a 1979 Rauschenberg multiple, a December 1979 cover of Tropic, the Miami Herald‘s Sunday magazine. Garcia Torres has donated one of the Rauchenberg originals, based on a series of photographs of Miami, to PAMM. Those source images, however, burned in suspicious fire shortly thereafter. In his response to Rauschenberg, Garcia Torres presents an enlarged Herald cover with all the stories save for the item on the fire cut out. He has also tracked down a number of black-and-white photographs taken in Miami in 1979, to stand in for those lost in the flames.
Other components to the work include a maquette based on a Rauschenberg painting that Garcia Torres has blown up in proportion to the expansion of the tropical climate, which he claims scientists trace back to 1979, and a video showing the fishing hut that Rauschenberg used to visit on Captiva Island.
The Garcia Torres is held in one of four project galleries where artists are commissioned to present new work for the museum, such as a large, two-story-high oil mural on blackboard paint from Gary Simmons (on view through October 4). The institution’s permanent collection is presented in six “Global Positioning Systems” galleries designed to explore Miami’s relation to the region and to the larger world. Themes include “The Uses of History” and “Forms of Commemoration.”
Also not to be missed during a visit to PAMM is the enchanting Let’s Make the Water Turn Black (on view through March 1), a multimedia installation from Geoffrey Farmer hidden behind a nondescript door on the museum’s second floor. Avoid the feeling that you’re entering a space forbidden to the public, and you’ll be treated to a strange, otherworldly experience where every day objects move and light up, as if actors in their own play. (Fittingly, Farmer has dubbed the Frank Zappa–inspired piece a “sculpture play.”) This wonderfully weird, surreal, ever-changing tableau will leave you wondering what you’ve just seen, but can’t help but charm you.
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