The large-scale paintings of Luis Cruz Azaceta’s latest exhibit, Joy Ride, fit well into the vibe of the big white walls and towering ceilings of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery. The space is roomy and clean and does absolutely nothing to detract from Azateca’s work, which is bright and striking and presented here without the benefit of titles or explanations.
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1942, Azaceta graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1969. He has been exhibiting his work in the United States, Latin America and Europe since 1971 and his work is in numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art and The Met in New York as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
As explained by the artist, Joy Ride is “about the joy and pleasure of painting. To apply paint and manipulate the medium without fear; to let go. To go with the ride…” His gaudy, innerving strokes rush onto each other in colorful swiveling lines and circles, giving an overall impression that this exhibit may be very well inspired by the flamboyant and festive spirit of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. These paintings are monumental celebrations of color and abstraction. The artist superimposes twirling lines to give a disorienting sense of puzzlement since it becomes difficult to distinguish between the backdrop and the foreground.
Azaceta works in layers on large sheets of canvas or on rough pieces of wood overlayed on top of each other so that areas of the painting push themselves towards you. Many of the pieces are also organic in shape, reminiscent of images of cells or atoms in vivid colors. “Beads (New Orleans)” is a collection of chromogenic prints on wood, clearly depicting the exuberance of the Mardi Gras celebration-the beads, the cups, the noisemakers, the extravagance. One might say that this is a well-chosen exhibit for the gallery to show in October, a month when Miami rejoices Caribbean and Latin American cultures in carnivalesque festivals, as well as human debauchery with Fantasy Fest in Key West.
Joy Ride runs through Oct. 28 at Fredric Snitzer off of Bird Road on 38th Court. For more info, call 305-448-8976.
Patrice Grell Yursik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org