CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE…at the Daniel Azoulay Gallery?

In a fusion of abstract paintings, photographs, video and some unclassifiable pieces, the Daniel Azoulay Gallery kicked off the fall with In Focus last Saturday to a bustling turnout of art aficionados. Both national and international artists are represented in the show – most notably Natalia Arias, Luis Hermano, Alfredo de Stefano and the gallery’s namesake himself, Daniel Azoulay, all of whom try to make you hone your ways-of-seeing skills.

Photographs make up most of the exhibits’ pieces and are far more appealing than the oil paintings in the next room. Natalia Arias’ “Laundry-Closet” series gives one of the most sincere offerings of the show, displaying the most common of everyday activities and places with nude female bodies strewn helplessly throughout. The women seem trapped in contemporary molds of what they should own, be or portray, and they ask the viewer: What can you make of it? In Arias’ “Untitled,” rows and rows of shoes surround the feet of one body hidden away in a closet, while in “Whites Separately 3,” a woman’s silky smooth skin is being ironed out by a man who sadly resembles ER’s Dr. Green. The artist’s work is said to disparage “high fashion’s well-priced deception.” Instead, it wants “a return to simple and pure.”

Another top feature here is Alfredo de Stefano’s “Escaleras al Cielo,” a surreal step into the photography of the extreme. Stefano exploits the infertility of landscapes by giving desert and beach environments a life of his own creation, whether through fire (circulo de-fuego), water (espejismos) or through rock and wood creations. One of the most interesting prospects of the entire show, he was only given enough wall space for one photograph while the rest of his work could only be found in his book slightly askew on a table near the entrance-way.

Adding a splash of artistic comedy, whether intentional or not, is “Calendario” by Luis Hermano. Representing a part of the show’s international faction, Hermano offers a new flavor of modern art in the form of children’s toys: a convex grouping of seventy small yellow and blue pens with six toy cows of varying colors in each one. Renata Poljak’s “Triptych, No title” stills from her “Untitled” video and her frames expose a faceless figure draped in a white embroidered gown with bright blue stockings and vivid red shoes reminiscent of witches in The Wizard of Oz. The figure seems to have continually tripped down a set of stairs and Poljak has captured the most vulnerable poses at each step.

At times, it seems the real show at openings is the interactions between the steady influxes of contrived art buffs posted outside at the wine table. But ignore the goers clumsily stepping over their words and emoting far too much between sips of red wine and you may occasionally glimpse at some edgy photography here.

In Focus shows at The Daniel Azoulay Gallery, 3900 a NE 1st Ave, Miami Design District, through October 8. For more info, call 305-576-1977.

Chris Howard can be reached at