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Pérez Art Museum opens unprecedented exploration of the cultural history of the Caribbean
Dudley Irons, Black Star Liner, 1995. Assemblage of polychromed wood (matchsticks), fabric, metal, glass, and plastic, 30 x 37 x 9 inches. Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection. Image courtesy of artist and The Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection.

MIAMI, FL.- Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, opening April 18, 2014 at Pérez Art Museum Miami, explores the diverse cultural history of the Caribbean and its diaspora, highlighting over two centuries of rarely seen works dating from after the Haitian Revolution to the present. The exhibition is the culmination of nearly a decade of collaborative research and scholarship organized by El Museo del Barrio in conjunction with the Queens Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem. The Miami presentation, curated for PAMM by guest curator Elvis Fuentes, is a honed reiteration of this critically-acclaimed survey and offers a vital reflection of Miami’s Caribbean community. The exhibition is the centerpiece of a season at PAMM dedicated to Caribbean art, which includes related exhibitions, a two-day symposium, a Caribbean film and video series, major new performances and other related programs and events.

With over 180 objects including paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, installations and videos, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World features images of, from and about the region. This exhibition employs a transhistorical approach to explore the many nations and cultures that comprise a broad conception of the Caribbean and focuses on four central themes: Fluid Motions, Counterpoints, Shades of History and Kingdoms of this World. These interconnected frameworks provide common ground and allow insight into the complex context from which the vital and varied artistic production of the region has emerged, illuminating multiple histories. Artists who have lived and worked in the Caribbean, as well as artists living abroad who responded to the rich visual tradition and history of the area are shown side-by-side. This exhibition mixes historical work by artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Victor Patricio Landaluze, Camille Pissarro, Wifredo Lam, Rigaud Benoit, Amelia Peláez and Armando Reverón, with works by contemporary artists, including Allora and Calzadilla, Janine Antoni, Renée Cox, Glexis Novoa, and Ebony G. Patterson, among many others. Works include:

• Richard Evans (b. 1784, Shrewsbury, England; d. 1871, Southampton, England), Portrait of the King Christophe, King of Haiti, 1816: This remarkable portrait of Henri Cristophe, a key leader in the Haitian Revolution and the first king of Haiti, will be featured alongside Evans’s portrait of Henri’s son, the prince Jacques-Victor Henri. These portraits are among the most iconic images from this seminal period in Haitian history.

• Francisco Oller y Cesteros (b. 1833, Bayamón, Puerto Rico; d. 1917, San Juan), Portrait of Cézanne, ca. 1864: Francisco Oller y Cesteros was a Puerto Rican painter and was deeply involved in the development of Impressionism. This painting captures one of his students, the important Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, at work.Visual evidence of Oller’s relationship with Cézanne, this work was recently shown in New York after over 90 years of not being seen in public.

• Leo Matiz, Pavo real del mar Santa Marta (Peacock of the Sea, Santa Marta), ca.1945: an image portraying a fisherman elegantly raising his net at Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta in Colombia by one of the most significant Colombian photographers of the 20th century.

• Rigaud Benoit (b. 1911, Port-au-Prince; d. 1986, Port-au-Prince), Carnaval des Fleurs, 1973: a lively and dense surreal depiction of animals masquerading for carnival, one of two works included in this exhibition by one of Haiti’s most celebrated artists.

• Renée Cox (b. 1960, Colgate, Jamaica; lives in New York), Redcoat Queen Nanny of the Maroons series, 2004: Renée Cox is an important Jamaican conceptual photographer whose works take on history and identity. Redcoat (2004) shows the artist defiantly imagined as the Jamaican national hero, Queen Nanny, dressed in the ‘red coat’ of the British military uniform—a stunning work that plays with history and power through portraiture.

• Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora [b. 1974, Philadelphia; lives in San Juan]; Guillermo Calzadilla [b. 1971, Havana; lives in San Juan]), Returning a Sound, 2004: Allora and Calzadilla,a duo based in San Juan, represented the United States in the 2011 Venice Biennial. Their short, poetic video, Returning a Sound (2004), documents a performative action they undertook on the contested island of Vieques—attaching a trumpet to the exhaust of a motorcycle—producing an almost comical victory bugle celebrating the departure of the military from its former base.

“This exhibition will greatly surprise people, as it repositions artists within new art historical contexts,” said Tobias Ostrander, PAMM Chief Curator. “For instance, Camille Pissarro, who is considered among the most important French painters, was born in St. Thomas, which was then part of the Danish West Indies. The island features in his work and his biography alludes to the larger and complex colonial relationship between the Caribbean and Europe.”

Caribbean: Crossroads of the World is part of a season at PAMM focusing on Caribbean art, and celebrating Miami’s position as an important Caribbean city. This includes Edouard Duval-Carrié: Imagined Landscapes (March 13 to August 31, 2014), a solo exhibition of large-scale works by the Haitian-born artist, and the opening of a project gallery featuring a recently-acquired, large-scale work by Simon Starling, (Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA (House for a Songbird)) (2002) that traces the paradoxes of modernist architecture in the Caribbean. Also on view and part of the museum’s collection is a large-scale installation by artist Hew Locke, a British artist of Guyanese descent, For Those in Peril on the Sea (2011), which hangs in the museum’s front entrance.

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