Carlos Luna on display at the Delano Resort in Miami

“Painting is like a woman who will show you her body only if you offer her your soul”.

Considered one of the greatest talents of the contemporary art scene, the Cuban Carlos Luna nourishes deep respect for the pictorial process that, like a woman, he treats with kindness and seriousness. After touring various institutions including the Museum of the Neighborhood in New York, the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, the American University of Washington and the Banco de Mexico Collection in Mexico City, his works will be exhibited from February 26th to April 1st at the Delano Hotel of Miami Beach during the group exhibition “Espinasse 31 for Delano Miami”, organized by the Milanese artist’s residency Espinasse31.

The visitor will be faced with a visual narration, where bright colors and graphic forms dance on paper, are intertwined in a tapestry or are carved in bronze, all proudly rooted in the Cuban origins of the artist. The link between Carlos and the island culture is solid and optimistic. His point of view expresses innovation, renewal and pride for the forgotten rural life. The sculptures exhibited are:  “Gallo“, “l’Elefante“, “War Giro” and “Floretito” which will invite the spectator to reflect on their cultural heritage to shape a single artistic universe.

Revisiting these rural subjects as forgotten heroes, the artist is interested in what it means to be a guajiro (farmer) and to unveil the popular meanings that are hidden behind the symbol icons, like the image of the “rooster”. A reference point for the daily routine of the guajiro, the rooster has a central role in the Cuban tribe of the Yoruba and is considered primarily as a symbolic and physical manifestation of God’s protective presence and in the “fighting of roosters”, the popular institution of large communities rural areas, is associated with both the indulgence of rural life and with the Christian faith in the struggle against the power of evil and darkness.

Carlos Luna weaves these iconic images into his own visual narration, where the rooster is considered a bit of his alter ego. An image of a fighting spirit, able to face life with bravery and bravado. Another ritual, symbol of his art and visible in his creations, is the religious belief of the Yoruba tribe and the allusion to the spiritual heritage shared in this community.

Trying to find a visual form capable of expressing the complexity of the relationships between the concepts of ori (inner or spiritual head), edo (sacrifice) and iwapele (good character), elements at the base of this religious philosophy, Carlos uses the technique of tapestry to offer the public a clear understanding of the underlying religious concepts. By alternating vibrant and dark colors and creating a deep field of intertwined layers, the tapestry is an ideal mean of capturing details and its production process perfectly reflects the function of the human eye, which can see a wide composition from a distance. colored, but closely he will perceive the infinite abstraction of the individual colored threads.

Exhibited in the exhibition are two works of his tapestry series Jacquard Tapestry, “Sometimes” and “Heartbreaker“, made with Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California. Inside the details and the layers of fibers of the tapestry, his drawings animate a superficial texture with their jacquard effects, which surround the familiar images to create new syncretic effects that never lose sight of the traditions of the production process: ” In my work, every detail, every little space is the sum of many details, it’s like a skin, the more you enlarge the magnifying glass, the more details you’ll find below. The composition process begins with the preliminary sketches to prepare the ideas for the execution in the painting. A charcoal drawing on an Indian red base forms the structural basis of the painting. The surface of the canvas is constructed by applying layers of color in various phases of wet and dry stratification “.

Admirer of his origins, Carlos felt the need to start from his beloved Cuba in 1991 to find an environment, able to offer him more freedom and opportunities.
His engravings on steel plates and his productions of ceramic plates, created in the ancient workshop of Talavera in Puebla, Mexico, the second fundamental stage of his artistic process, testify to a new freedom and an unmistakable originality.

His decorative drawings and his calligraphic gestures highlight an instinctive, collective, social painting typical of Mexican muralism: “I lived more than ten years in Mexico and this marked my career and my life. I was born in Cuba and I’m proud of it; however, I freely chose Mexico as my country, for its customs, its traditions, its food, its ways and above all for love “.

Moving to Miami in 2003 for a residency project, his career has continued to expand and his boundaries as a painter to evolve. Influenced by the English pop art of Peter Blake, probably for his colorful, energetic and collage-like paintings and by Susan Rothenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jasper Johns for their strong sense of identity and originality, Carlos has broadened his views, still keeping an independent voice, distinguishable from other artists: “For me art must have a contemporary voice, but must be based on classical, traditional means: I respect photography, performances, video-art, but I want to pursue my career as a painter. My grandmother had a collection of reproductions of works by Matthias Grünewald, Andrea Mantegna, Diego Velázquez – these were my first contact with the history of art”.

Carlos LunaCarlos Luna, Untitled, 2017

Carlos LunaCarlos Luna, Sometimes, 2015

Carlos LunaCarlos Luna, Untitled, 2017

Carlos Luna

Carlos Luna, War Giro, 2019

The complexity of human beings and cities in Marcello Silvestre’s sculptures

 “I have neither desires nor fears, – declared the Khan, – my dreams are composed either by the mind or by chance. – Cities also believe to be creations of the mind or of accident but neither one nor the other are strong enough to support its walls. You won’t be able to enjoy seven or seventy-seven wonders of a city, but it might answer a question could ask”.This idea was told in Italo Calvino’s book ‘Invisible Cities’ which reveals, through the words of Marco Polo, the importance every city takes for one of us: a space to get lost and reflect, a space which you can leave but also to come back to, which you can find or find yourself as if it was a day dream.

Emotions, scents, tastes and the sounds of the city give you space to build dreamlike worlds where people can lose themselves and confront their unconscious selves that becomes visible and can be reflected in art pieces. As a matter of fact, the city has always been part of artist’s development, transformation and aesthetic restructuring. Also many artworks were created thanks their iteration with public spaces.

Through the urban art Marcello Silvestre managed to unite his two biggest passions architecture and sculpture which became the main object of his art. ‘ I sculpt bodies, legs and arms on which I create towers and buildings, in a continuous flow, in an intertwining of soft lines, triangles and edges. I have always loved Calvino’s writings; ‘Invisible cities’ has accompanied me during all of my university years thanks to one of my professors of architecture design who invited me to read and reread this book’.

Innovative and curious Marcello has managed to give his dreamlike visions a material form by creating a series of bronze sculptures. The idea of ‘Invisible cities’ was born from the novel of Calvino. His artworks represent the investigation of indissoluble relationship between humans and the city as they belong to each other and can’t be separated.

“My art wasn’t born in the street how traditional urban art was, however, the inspiration was found in the streets, cities and their unique spirit. There are many ways to talk about the city; personally, I do it through unreal dreams and materials that grows older with time like stones and hearts do.

This perception of unity between the man and the city can also be seen in digital techniques used as part of the creation process. As a mater of fact, Marcello uses innovative techniques in his 3D modelling and particularly “Blender”, an open source software of immense creative potential. ‘In the laboratory we also use 3D printing technology with the biodegradable material Pla, very efficient from both an ecological and technical perspective as it reduces imperfections and the printing has higher quality. Contact with the materials and manual labour starts with the assembly and the sanding, where a layer of non-toxic resin and transparent water is applied to the 3D printed shapes. From here on there are two possibilities: either I deliver the model to the foundry for lost wax casting as it is the case for Le città invisibili or I proceed with a hand-brush finishing as in the La Ruggine dei Sentimenti cycle.”

The second project that is exhibited at Espinasse31, ‘La Ruggine dei Sentimenti’ is an investigation into the feelings and concerns that arise during the crisis of couple relationship where rust is the symbol of a malaise that darkens the heart; it hides the truth and reveals the passage of time. ‘I tell the story of their difficulties through the tension of their bodies rather than with their facial expressions or their eyes.

The bodies are carved with triangular polygons, which approach, rotate and recompose until they form bodies of woman and men victims of misunderstandings, preoccupations, sustained by hope and scared of a long goodbye’.

The use of digital techniques manages to preserve the traditional soul of classical sculpture, for example, if we talk about Michelangelo and Rodin as masters. ‘Making sculptures has always meant giving a substance to the ideas that were created by Michelangelo’s chisel in the white marble blocks or with Rodin’s expert clay shaping hands. Even if the technique changes, there is always a need to tell a story through form and matter, lights and shadows, completeness and emptiness’.

Marcello has been collaborating with the Fashion brand Zegna brand for the last two years, designing pop up stores and window creativity around the world. At the moment, he is one of the finalists of the Art Prize 2018 which exhibition will be held at the Palazzo Reale of Milan from the 16th to the 21st of October. His art can be perceived as a ballet of emotions, where each piece is an invitation by the artist to deeply analyse the viewer’s self.

Annaida Mari

Città invisibili and La Ruggine dei Sentimenti showcased at Espinasse31’s ‘Escapes’
2 october – 2 december

Marcello Silvestre, La Ruggine dei Sentimenti, 2017, installation view at Espinasse 31

Marcello Silvestre, La Ruggine dei Sentimenti, 2017, installation view at Espinasse 31

Marcello Silvestre, Città invisibili, 2018, installation view at Espinasse 31

Marcello Silvestre, Dorotea, 2018