Spooky, dreamy imagery focused on the body spans the walls in the big group show, Estamos Aqui, at Projects Gallery. The exhibit rounds up artists of the Cuban diaspora, and demonstrates the island-born artists’ continuing fascination with body as vessel; vessels as conduits for escape to spiritual realms; and spirit realms as present and necessary.
If you’ve seen and loved work by Cuban artists before (Jose Bedia, for example, who spoke at University of the Arts a few years back–and left an indelible impression on this writer) this show will build on what you’ve seen. There’s Santeria-fueled imagery; boats either at sea under a huge night sky or otherwise standing in as homes; references to blood and body fluids and to wounds. Some of the most compelling imagery is by Cirenaica Moreira whose series of female portraits (the artist is her own model) portrays women as objects of desire and objects of their own self-loathing and self-questioning.
Ramon Williams’ series of self-portrait heads brings up the idea of duality where self is not one whole but an ever-changing series of events and persons. Angel Ricardo Ricardo Rios’s furniture portraits convey the idea of transience and the impermanence of shelter. And Philadelphian Alex Queral’s carved portraits made from Philadelphia telephone directories are icons both lovely and humanist.
The show’s curated by artist and blogger Lenny Campello, who will give a gallery talk about Cuban art Friday, May 22 at 6:30 pm.
Meanwhile, Caleb Weintraub’s show in Projects’ back gallery continues the artist’s fairy tale gone bizarro paintings and drawings featuring children and adolescents going through rituals that evoke both Lord of the Flies and story lines Disney animators think up in their spare time to clear their pallets of saccharine.