JOSE BEDIA: Edging on unsettling existentalism

You loom towards five three-dimensional, towering black figures draped in all black, complete with cowboy hats and masked faces in the dark cloaks, all holding a red flag with a cross in the upper corner. They stand before a mound of sand in the middle of the room where someone has just been buried and five figures have their swords erect in the sand around the grave. Strange, creepy, disturbing, yet you find yourself wanting to know more about what is going on, who these figures are and who they have killed and buried.

Within a saturation of Cuban works in Miami’s Hispanic art scene, JosE Bedia brings the slightly different taste of Mexican culture to the table. In his latest show …You had to be there at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Bedia takes the viewer to witness the cultural celebration of Holy Week in Sonaora, Mexico.

Behind the five solemn figures is a simple background painted directly onto the wall of what appears to be a church on the horizon. Peering over is “the spirit of the deer,” which, Bedia explains in his artist statement, “acquires the role of Jesus in the Indian synthesis.” The black figures themselves, he states, “represent evil and they are Roman soldiers.”

All the other pieces are two-dimensional and carry the same color motif of black and blue, while one dominates the entire wall with its long and narrow shape and an ambiguous depiction of a car/UFO with numerous headlights and wheels. In the vehicle are several animals equally spaced out, sitting upright with a human man in the driver seat. “Nunca ofrezcas ‘rides’ a extraOos” is spelled out in the backdrop: “Never offer rides to strangers.”

Moreover, three other works show eccentric battleships, being put forth in motion by a crew of rowers with horns. As one solitary figure smoking a cigarette is contacted by a spirit, in the next painting, he tells the spirit to go, and in the third, the same character is giving the thumbs up to a figure who’s sinking and sabotaging the battleship.

Bedia’s works skulk towards you like ominous rattlesnakes menacing you with trembling rattlers. Beware and walk in with caution…

…You had to be there is at Fredric Snitzer, 3078 SW 38 Court, Miami, through the end of the month. Call 305-448-2976 for more info.

Kira Wisniewski can be reached at