Since its opening in 1974, exhibitions featuring leading artists from around the world, as well as notable emerging artists, have graced the walls of ArtSpace Virginia Miller Galleries. From its location in Coral Gables, noted art curator and dealer, Virginia Miller, continues to host contemporary artists, often introducing them to art enthusiasts in the United States in some new and important way. The latest in Miller’s roster is Cuban artist Jose Angel Vincench, whose first solo exhibition in the United States is on view at the gallery through January 2012.
According to Miller, “Jose Angel Vincench is that rare artist: original, highly creative, with intellectual concepts.” Vincench grew up in Holguin, Cuba, where he attended the Visual Arts Elementary School and the Provincial School of the Arts.
He then moved to Havana to attend the Higher Art Institute, from which he graduated in 1997. Since then, his artwork has been shown across the world, most notably in South America and Europe. In addition, he was accepted into prestigious Artist in Residence positions at APT Studios is London and Fordsburg Artists’ Studios in Johannesburg.
Vincench, who Miller refers to as, “a young Cuban artist who has unlimited potential,” is exhibiting more than one hundred and fifty new paintings and wall-mounted installations from his two newest series, Dissident and Exile, in this exhibition. These are composed of canvas and paper “shopping bags” shaped into letters. Each plays not only with the physical attributes of the letters and words presented – which take on various color sequences, patterns, and sizes from piece to piece – but also with language in general.
“In Cuba, a dissident is the very worst thing you can be,” Vincench explains. “No one wants to be associated with a dissident. Because I am an artist, an intellectual, I see things differently. I want to show people that dissidence is just another way of looking at something.”
The Dissident Series comprises a number of paintings, similar in appearance and composition, but with distinct, yet subtle, differences. Each plays with the theme of dissidence, and the show as a whole targets the sociopolitical phenomenon of dissidence, particularly in Cuba. The Exile Series comprise partially blocked off definitions of descent and include a series of five paintings of brick houses whose walls, when grouped together, spell out the word Exile.
These works, which Miller considers “gorgeous works of semi-abstractions,” are displayed alongside Vincench’s Reconciliation tree, a work crafted of cedar slats, each bearing a part of the definition of reconciliation in Spanish on one side and English on the other.