The personal exhibition of Florencio Gelabert Soto (Havana, 1961) “Viajes diálogo con el tiempo” (Trips: A Dialogue with Time), which will be on display at the Museum of Arts + Design at the Miami Dade College from May 28 until August 28, 2015, shows how from his early work in Cuba, in the early 1980s, the artist continues a personal way of expression that goes beyond traditional patterns of sculpture.
From his early work in his native Cuba , he has tried to find ways of expression that go beyond traditional patterns of art. Inspired by concepts and unconventional materials, almost always poor and ephemeral, he created sculptures deeply influenced by Minimalism and Povera Art of the 1960s. His strategy is based on using unconventional materials and formulas that deconstruct the very concept of sculpture. His efforts are aimed at finding the paucity of the elements used and the use of unconventional materials. He has been concentrated on creating sculptures and installations, which include components extracted from nature: objects, utilitarian elements and architectural fragments.
This is his first solo exhibition in a museum of South Florida, since he presented for the opening of the Frost Museum in 2008 the exhibition “Intersections”. It is not a retrospective, as explained by its curator, Mr Jeremy Mikolajczak, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) of Miami Dade College, but a “journey” or tour through key issues represented in his work throughout his thirty-year career, developed in different social, economic and political contexts. It will show a new series of large-scale sculptures as well as installations and drawings, commissioned by MAD, in the three rooms on the second floor of the museum, representing different chapters of his artistic exploration.
The installations and drawings display the characteristic items of his recurrent theme by contrasting sensations such as bipolarity of concepts: beauty and destruction, violence and serenity, seen through the manipulation of materials and the spread of imaginary spaces. Obsessed with the destruction of the architectural environment, he reproduces, -from the look of a sensitive person who is concerned for the composition of the habitat-environments where the deterioration and destruction of the living spaces of the human being is appreciated. For more than two decades he has used in his artistic production a wide range of everyday and construction materials to create sculptures that transfigure utilitarian objects and imaginary sites where universality varies by action of time destruction. With different ways of processing and production, his work resists the definition of direct talks, offering instead a fusion of several readings, evoking resonant themes as identity, loss, pollution, mortality and poetry. Interest by patenting the notions of time, destruction and eschatology is appreciated. His speech focuses on a fracture zone in which the contemplative creation is used in pursuit of reflection of humanity and its environment, and moves between the disparate communication, contrasting shapes and metaphoric possibilities. This exhibition continues his line of interest, addressing the cardinal theme of his poetics. He creates spaces where deterioration of the bodily structures that constitute the environment of the human being is seen. His obsession to demystify architecture and put it in the center of his concerns forms a poetic discourse on the existence and the future of the individual who receives these focuses of attention, this time from the perspective of a creator of fantasies expressed lyrically and professionally.
In these new pieces, the “natural” element is re-contextualized and re-built through the sham or the recreation of nature, in chairs, furniture and objects found on the street. His common practice is to combine elements of architecture, nature, and more recently, waste and the environment, to express his reflection loaded of multiple universal readings. Some of the exponents recall works by the author in the 1980s in Cuba , where he used the alignment of elements at ground level. Others cohabit in the space between sculpture and painting, emphasizing eradicate the boundary between the two. For the first time, the functionality will be present in his work through tables and objects that remind lamps and screens, but stripped of a final purpose. These are works that question our ability to transit between a physical and a functional space, opening a new perspective in assessing the work of this author.
“Viajes: Un diálogo con el tiempo” will show striking sculptures that simulate remains of buildings and a vast space of burned trees, which break with traditional aesthetic beauty, and seek to establish a fluid relationship between the real and the imaginary, in order to challenge the viewer and question their relationship with the environment, while inviting them to contemplate these works from the diversity of views that gives us the whole.
His work is part of important public and private collections: Luciano Benetton Collection, Treviso, Italy; National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Vin & Sprithistoriska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Neuberger Museum of Art at the University of NY, Purchase, NY; Nassau County Museum, Roslyn Habor, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) of North Miami, FL; Patricia and Philips Frost Museum of Art, FIU, Miami, FL; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; Art Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Cisneros Collection, Caracas, Venezuela.