“Art should not be threatening, but enlightening. It speaks about our experiences and it is an incredible and powerful way to educate and invite us to live together and to learn more about ourselves and others. Art is a universal language that goes beyond time and style. Every culture and every nation produces art.”
FORT LAUDERDALE — These are the captivating words of local painter/ artist Carlos Luna, The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale’s 2008-2009 Artist in Residence.
The Picasso/ Luna exhibit will open on Sunday, Oct. 5 at the museum. It highlights Africa’s contribution to Cuban art, and is scheduled to run through Feb. 23, 2009. The exhibit pairs Pablo Picasso’s ceramics from the museum’s collection with ceramics and paintings by Luna, whose work is inspired by the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
Luna’s paintings are best recognized by their meticulous composition, luminous colors and bold, ignited imagination. With each painting exuding a sense of timeless and commanding vitality, it is no surprise that Annegreth T. Nill, the museum’s chief curator, decided to pair Luna with the works of one of the true pioneers in the history of art.
“We felt that here was a certain resonance between their works that was worth exploring in an exhibition,’’ Nill said. “Showing the works of two artists simultaneously opens up a dialogue, a conversation, in this case between one of the most innovative artists of the twentieth century and a very talented young artist who is inspired by Picasso’s strategies.”
Most of Luna’s artwork illustrates an infusion of the African Orisha. The swirling use of bright demanding colors in much of Luna’s artwork and sculptures also consists of images that derive from the Cuban popular religion known as Santería.
Santería fuses the African Yoruba religion with aspects of Catholicism, and has been associated with popular, subversive forces in Cuba. Nill said she understands the African influence on the work of both Luna and Picasso.
“The metallic objects in his (Luna) artwork refer to the Orisha religion. Picasso himself was influenced by African sculpture as well. It’s that mystery of their work that gives a lot of
power to their art,” Nill said.
Born in Cuba’s western province, Pinar del Rio, Luna began his formal art education at the School of Fine Arts, and went on to Havana’s prestigious Academia Nacional de Bellas
Artes San Alejandro, Cubanacan National Art School, and the Superior Institute of Arts.
In 1991, Luna went into exile in Mexico, where he met his wife, Claudia Ramirez. It was a tough decision for him to leave Cuba, but Luna said he believed it was inevitably for the best.
“It was difficult knowing that I may never see my family again. But I knew that I could never grow as an artist if I remained in Cuba,” he said.
Moving to Miami in 2003 with his wife and their three children allowed Luna to evolve not only as an artist, but also as a self-proclaimed contemporary artist.
“I have had the opportunity to develop my work in a nation that protects the individual, his creations, and an artist’s freedom to create. In Miami, my work has been enriched as I have been able to connect with my childhood roots. Miami is a natural home for the Cuban,” Luna said.
He said he has always been inspired by numerous religious images and objects that his grandmother in Cuba kept privately in her home. The country life and everyday life that surrounded Luna during his childhood were all powerful influences that continue to be illustrated in his work.
“As a student, I was inspired by masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. I studied Impressionism, Realism; the Gothic and Romantic periods. It is from these experiences that some of my characters like the guajiro (country dweller with the hat and mustache), alligators and roosters appear in my work,” Luna added.
To share the same art space with such an astounding artist as Pablo Picasso is truly overwhelming for Luna, who said he looks forward to museum patrons’ enjoyment of the beautiful collection of Picasso’s artwork, as well as his new creations. Luna said he wants people to walk away enlightened by the true existence of contemporary art that is alive and well in the 21st century.
Photo by Khary Bruyning. A painting by artist Carlos Luna titled "Te pongo la cabeza mala.''
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: The Pablo Picasso Ceramics/Carlos Luna Paintings exhibition.
WHERE: Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale; One East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale.
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008 – Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. The museum, a division of Nova Southeastern University, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays until 8 p.m.
COST: Admission is $10 adults; $7 students (6 -17) , $7 military and seniors (65+). College students with a valid ID, children 5 and under, students 6 -17 with a Broward County Library card and museum members are admitted free. BankAtlantic presents Third Thursdays with free admission from 5 – 7 p.m.
CONTACT: Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale at 954-525-5500 or visit www.moafl.org.
A party honoring Luna will also take place. See below for details.
WHAT: A gala “Latin Art Meets Latin music” salsa dance party in honor of artist Carlos Luna.
WHERE: Pangaea nightclub at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, near Hollywood.
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 24. Open 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
COST: Free admission and a complimentary glass of Moet champagne or a LeBlon mojito from 10 p.m. to midnight.
CONTACT: To reserve VIP bottle service, ask for Eden and call 954-581-5454.