One of the most dynamic voices in contemporary Latin American art today, Carlos Luna is featured in a monographic exhibition, Carlos Luna: Beyond the Surface, which will be on view through September 10, 2023 at the Reading Public Museum.
Luna creates impactful and memorable works that enlist engaging narratives, graphics, texts, and a visual vocabulary that is uniquely his own. The exhibition, which is on view in The Museum’s first floor galleries, features nearly 30 paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and tapestries that range from the late 1990s through his most recent works.
Born in Pinar del Río in rural western Cuba in 1969, Luna was raised in San Luis, a town known for its high quality cigars and tobacco plantations. He studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and, seeking individual freedom, immigrated to Mexico in 1991, where he spent a decade in Puebla before settling in Miami, Florida in the United States in 2002.
During the past thirty years, Luna has formulated a unique visual language — a density of hybrid images — that consists of a magical blend of symbols of national identity, Caribbean folklore and popular mythology, Afro-Cuban traditions, visual and verbal puns, and personal familial memories.
The dazzling iconography employed in his paintings includes dancing Latin lovers; representations of Guajiro rural culture; symbolic animals such as the rooster, crocodile, horse, lion and elephant; and coffee and sewing machines from the domestic realm. Music, dancing, religion, and elements from the oppressive government of his childhood are also explored in his visually complex works.
He builds up his compositions with multi-layered and richly-textured surfaces, employing bold outlines and intricate patterning that contribute to the overall meaning and narrative of each work.
His debut exhibition in Reading features a group of large-scale paintings on canvas and wood, monumental traditional amate (bark) paper mixed media works, a selection of sculptures, and tapestries all featuring elements of iconic Cuban culture.
Luna’s artistic influences include the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, the seminal twentieth-century artistic movements of Cubism and Surrealism, and important Mexican artists such as José Guadalupe Posada and Rufino Tamayo, among others. The artist’s work explores themes that — although specific to him and his life experience — resonate universally: life, love, sexuality, freedom, and joy.
The artist has exhibited throughout the United States and Mexico, including solo exhibitions at The Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California; The American University Art Museum at The Katzen Art Center, Washington, D.C.; The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, Florida; San Pedro Museo de Arte, Puebla, Mexico; and The Museum of Arts & Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Museum will host an evening opening reception on Thursday, July 20 and the artist will give a gallery tour on Friday, July 21 at 1pm as part of RPM’s Senior Series. Visit the Reading Public Museum website for details and to RSVP.