New Exhibit Melds Art and Consumerism
by brett sokol
Beach Figure by Loriel Beltran, 2013.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Miami artist Loriel Beltran has indeed worked blown-up pages of advertising from Ocean Drive magazine into “Rococo Chanel,” his exhibition of new artwork. Of course, they’ve been painted on and “détourned” until their fashion-forward femmes resemble those of Willem de Kooning’s abstracted women far more than any of the frolickers found in South Beach’s VIP rooms. “I’m always trying to find and infiltrate systems for my work. Before, I was using natural systems, like with paint that seems to grow like the rings inside a tree,” Beltran explains, referring to his 2008 solo show at Wynwood’s Fredric Snitzer Gallery. Still, while viewers may have been wowed by the multicolor layers of paint that he methodically poured, dried, and sliced up, Beltran himself became dissatisfied: “If you saw it, you wouldn’t really think of Miami. I wasn’t speaking to Miami, culturally. And that led me to ads. Advertising is the history of this city—it’s what we’re based on.”
That notion of cultural reappropriation carries over to the exhibiting gallery itself, Guccivuitton—a new space co-run by Beltran with fellow artists Domingo Castillo and Aramis Gutierrez. Its moniker is intended to deliver both a chuckle—“We know the cease-and-desist letter is coming in the mail at some point”—and a pointed message: “We wanted to approach that troubled relationship between art and straight-up consumerism.”
However, don’t expect a knee-jerk Marxist conclusion from Beltran. He’s more interested in rooting around the world of fashion photography than in demolishing it. And not least, his attractive handiwork is for sale to the same scenesters Guccivuitton is taking a wry potshot at. Call it embracing the contradictions—and making the most of the aesthetic friction that results. Loriel Beltran’s “Rococo Chanel” opens October 19 at Guccivuitton, 8375 NE Second Ave., Miami
photography courtesy of the artist and guccivuitton