Peréz Art Museum Miami is located on the waterfront in the city of Miami and was established to exhibit work that highlights Miami’s diverse collection of cultures. In addition to rotating exhibitions, it houses a permanent collection and focuses on an educational component to serve the Miami community. It helps to ensure the rising status of Miami being a global capital, with its exquisite interior spaces, sprawling sculpture garden and stunning views.
Art Basel Miami Beach is part of Miami Art Week, and I set out to discover where some of the Art Basel exhibiting artists maintain a permanent presence. In addition to the permanent collections, there are some monumental offerings on view.
It is difficult to conceive of the fact that “Chromosaturation,” Carlos Cruz-Diez’ engulfing installation, was conceived in 1965. It was acquired by the museum in 2020 and consists of three connecting rooms with ultra-saturated spectral light. The viewer meanders through the chambers, and at each turn is enveloped by a new set of color combinations. Cubes seem to fly in mid-space; minimal form containing kinetic color fields. The saturation of the color itself defies the physical limitations of the body, reaching to the inner core, initiating a remembrance of the spark of life inherent in all things. The viewing becomes a physical act, a sensation of glowing from within. The viewer and the viewed becomes one entity.
Marco Brambilla’s “Heaven’s Gate” is an ambitious, complex and multi-layered video comprised of collaged old Hollywood movie stills samples. The components are arranged in new dynamics and emerge as a unique narrative. In addition to being visually stunning, the storytelling is akin to witnessing the ascent and descent of the soul as it makes its way through layers of karmic experience. The bottom of the long, narrow projection is filled with darker, fire-saturated images. As the viewer works his/her way up the column, one would expect to see an experience that is filled with lighter beings, as in the Medieval and Renaissance religious iconic paintings. Instead, we see layers of differentiated experience, some pleasant, some not. In fact, the artist is stating that there is no straight line available in ascending to heaven, that evolution of the individual is a spiral, rapt with experiences designed to open the gates to enlightenment. At the top is a line of movie lights. The artist insinuates that all of this, all we see, all we live, is simply a projection, phenomena without real substance.
Also, on view at the Peréz is “Trophallaxis,” a hanging installation by Simone Leigh. Forms made of black terracotta and porcelain hang in a chandelier configuration, with metal rods dispersed from the clusters in varying measures. Upon closer look, they are breasts pointing downward, nurturing, exuding black female sensuality. The rods attempt to interrupt, quell, quiet and contain unsuccessfully.
José Bedia’s installation depicting symbolism and mysticism, “Munanfinda,” was a find at Art Basel. Bedia, an initialed Palo Monte (Afro-Cuban religion) practitioner, exhibits “Isla vernado (Deer Island)” as part of the permanent collection. What appears is an enormous mountain in the midst of the sea, but upon closer inspection one realizes that it is in the shape of a deer. This is a reflection of the mysticism of land and animal merged as one, an appearance of the divine taking form in all beings, the inseparable nature of the communal.
There is a beautiful portrait by Kehinde Wiley on view titled “Regard the Class Struggle as a Main Link in the Chain.” This is a nod to the historical content of a Chinese propaganda poster, and the artist draws a parallel between Chinese Communist propaganda and the constant attacks on Black culture and experience. From a palette of traditional florals emerges the man, his gaze in full awareness of his identity, impossible to manipulate.
The beautiful cultural diversity of Miami is reflected in the many faceted works on view at the Peréz Museum. It is a blossoming in an intricate, kinetic city on the rise. It is an anchor of consistent evaluation of how art evolves in accordance with its surroundings.
(Peréz Art Museum, 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida, is open Thursday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and on Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit pamm.org.)