Recently, I conducted a video interview with Carlos Luna at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. How many times do we all feel a spark of curiosity when we glimpse at the banners on the wall at MOAFL? What is that all about? Who's Carlos Luna? Oh well, I gotta get to happy hour before those full price drinks kick in. I guess I'll never know. Right? Well, this is one exhibit that's well worth seeing and Moodvane did the leg work for you, so there are no excuses like convincing yourself that it wouldn't be worth the effot (it is) or the expense ($10, which also gets you into other exhibits). Take it from a girl who wears sock hats just to silence the Captain's (Morgans) call, Luna is a dynamo and his exhibit with Picasso's ceramics is better than any cold one I've ever had.
Below: Picasso/Luna exbibit banner.
Carlos Luna, the artist. With artists, you never know what you're going to get. Every artist is different. While the rest of us prop our feet on the coffee table and gossip about people who think they're our friends, artists (who may sometimes participate in the same activities), commune with their crafts, pursue meaning or meaninglessness (whatever their bag may be) and fuse it all together to present through a sensual medium. Many artists say that their work is what it is. Why look for meaning in it? Just experience and enjoy. Carlos Luna, the 2008 Artist in Residence at Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale (not to be called Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art) is not one of those artists; each drop of paint that makes it onto the canvases that hold his rich, symbolic works is deliberate and meaningful. How do I know this? I asked him about his work, and he explained its nuances to me -- and the crowd that accumulated during the course of our conversation.
Below: Es Tarde, Ya Me Voy
Luna, the Museum's 2008-2009 Artist in Residence, walked us through his exhibit and told us all about the symbolism in his work, his feelings about MOAFL showing his work alongside Picasso's ceramics, and his life as a Cuban exile living in South Florida. The MOAFL Director of Communications and Marketing, not to mention an eloquent bilingual gentleman, Roberto Santiago accompanied us on our tour of the exhibit to translate and make sure that we didn't touch anything we weren't supposed to touch. The pieces that we discussed in depth were "El Gran Mambo" (Luna's 6-panel masterwork, an autobiographical piece that traces his journey from a young aspiring artist in Cuba to an accomplished and celebrated artist living in Miami), "Se Te Acabo El Mamey Cabron" or "Time Is Up, You Bastard", a gouache and charcoal picture on amate that depicts a skeletal figure straining under the weight of pulling Castro toward his final curtain and "Las Flores Del Regreso", a stunning image of a woman lying on top of an alligator over swirling waters that represents Luna's fantasy of returning to his homeland, which he left in 1991, at the age of 21. If/when you go to experience the exhibit for yourself, you'll want the key to getting the most out of it. Here are just a few of the gems I gleaned from my conversation with Luna. First, consider the painting below.
Below: Cafe Caliente Juliana by Carlos Luna
The two male figures in the painting, the one seated on the left and the one hovering over the female figure, are guajiros (rural Cuban men), which are common autobiographical characters that appear in many of Luna's paintings. The face that appears on the hand of the guajiro seated on the left is eleggua, a Yoruban god that appears in many of Luna's paintings as a witness or in Luna's words as "a petulant child" popping in to eavesdrop on the piece's goings-on. The airplane, another common feature in the work, represents Luna's desire to return to his homeland. The eyes, which also pervade his work, represent the feeling that everything that you do is being watched. The roosters recall the cockfighting that Luna came across as a youngster in Cuba, but they are also symbols of masculinity. All of these images work together to create stories about life in/and as an exile from Cuba, the sometimes strained and often humorous relationships between men and women and Luna's autobiographical tale of his journey as a young artist in Cuba to his time in Mexico and his life as a husband, father and artist living in Miami. Reference the Picasso ceramic below for the blog content that follows the image.
Below: Picasso Blackwood Owl, image provided courtesy of Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.
Luna says that the best way to experience the exhibit is to start with Picasso's editioned ceramics (made at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris, France and donated to MOAFL by Miami hotelier Bernie Bercuson). Where the ceramics end, Luna's exhibit begins. Below, we posed with Carlos Luna (to my right) after the interview.
Below: MOAFL marketing director Roberto Santiago, MOAFL Artist in Residence Carlos Luna, Courtney, Chris.
Another work that really blew my mind was "El Pastel y Las Moscas". The beautiful (and in this case nude) woman represents Cuba (though she is also just a beautiful woman), surrounded by airplanes that have a phallic aspect.
It's difficult to express in writing how interesting this exhibit is and how much fun it was to get to hear Luna talk about his work. The video of my conversation with Carlos Luna will appear soon right here on Intown 411.
The Carlos Luna/Pablo Picasso exhibit will run through February 23 at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, which grants access to this exhibit and the Museum's Coming of Age exhibit, which traces the developments in American painting from the 1850s to the 1950s -- a Georgia O'Keefe and a Jackson Pollock are currently on display.