Frost Art Museum - Miami. November 29, 2008 - February 28, 2009
By Rafael López-Ramos
On November 29, 2008, the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University inaugurated its new building with several exhibitions including Florencio Gelabert’s solo exhibition, “Intersections,” which was shown in one of its third floor galleries until February 28, 2009.
As has often been said, Gelabert is one of the most unique artists of the Cuban generation of the 1980s. His is a uniqueness that, in my opinion, stems more from an inner voice that causes him to pay more attention to the poetic specificity required by each work than to what is occurring within the surrounding artistic panorama. An exception might be the piece he presented at the historic show, “El objeto esculturado” (The Sculptured Object), a piece very much in keeping with the post-Dadaist fervor (centered on anthropo-sociological musings most closely associated with Joseph Beuys) that prevailed within the youngest segment of the generation, the one that emerged during the second half of the decade. His work, ironically entitled Milrazones para amar (A Thousand Reasons to Love), consisted of a rusty metal furnace containing a pile of books illuminated by a reddish light that simulated fire, an obvious metaphor for the dogmatisms that have historically plagued human civilization.
His current work is motivated by similar ethical and humanist concerns, exploring ideas that allow him to confront “personal fantasy versus reality, construction versus deconstruction” and to evoke “personal interpretations of conceptual alchemy, forcing the audience to reevaluate the relationship between organic elements, nature and technology.”(1) The three pieces that comprise “Intersections” construct an eminently ecological narrative, implying a very dark outlook in which the dystopia of apocalyptic prophecy and the scientific warning of Green Peace appear to merge. Birth 2008 (plywood, Aqua-Resin®, artificial plants, earth and PVC mirror) is literally a wall installation that opens revealing a cluster of plants springing forth from its interior, reminding me of a documentary that used the abandoned city of Chernobyl overrun by vegetation as an example of what would happen in our cities were the human species to disappear. It is a complex metaphor, simultaneously connoting birth as well as death.
The sculpture, Column Tree 2008 (Aqua-Resin®, gauze, burlap and mirrors), represents a tree trunk traversed by mirrors, which slice through it at regular intervals and at different angles, making it appear like the spine of a superior vertebrate animal covered in plaster (classic therapy for bone fractures), a gesture that melds animal and vegetable kingdoms into an equally vulnerable whole. The third piece, Cycle, is a video animation projected onto the back wall, between the other two pieces, that somehow integrates and summarizes them, advancing the notions of temporality, processes of change and evolution - the dialectic governing the fundamental doctrine of life: everything is born, develops and then dies. Thus, Gelabert, with his current artistic practice, reminds us discreetly and subtly of our transitory state as individuals and possibly also as a species.
Published in Wynwood Magazine