Sunday, November 27, 2016

Robierb at Octavia; Centeno at The Front

The cities with the most interesting art scenes usually have their own unique visual identities. Miami can be notoriously crass, but it is also dynamic and colorful thanks to the Hispanic and Caribbean influences also seen in its art. If older Miami artists evoked the soulful sensibilities of their homelands, more recent arrivals like Brazil-native Rubem Robierb often embody a mix of tropical color and global pop culture. His big War-Hol Flowers painting recalls Andy Warhol's classic 1960s flower graphics, but it is based on the florid patterns made by hollow-point bullets on impact. Rose Bouquet, a still life painting of a hand grenade in a floral arrangement, is similarly ballistic. Ditto Butterfly II, (pictured) a blood orange butterfly that is actually a bullet depicted against a blue background, and Love Changes Everything is a three foot tall sculpture of a bullet with a tip covered in Swarovsky crystals. Beautiful but creepy, these colorful, crisply executed works could be seen as glamorizing weaponry, but presumably were intended as critiques of pop culture's incessant fetishization of violence.

Facebook is such a familiar part of our lives that we often forget how weird it really is. Nola artist Vanessa Centeno is fascinated by its alternative reality aspects, especially the fantastical way some people present themselves on FB image platforms like Instagram. Centeno is known for her explorations of the nexus of female identity and pop culture, and Inher Reflection is an installation of dreamlike images projected on reflective panels represents Instagram as a digital hall of mirrors experience. But it is her photo-collages on the walls that effectively turn glamor girl clich├ęs inside out in images where glossy hair, silky skin and glittering jewels become entangled with the more visceral aspects of the body and its orifices. Unexpectedly and eerily beautiful, their surreal physicality and colorful nuances seduce us into confronting the voracious social, physical and emotional neediness that people often experience, and that Instagram reflects and glamorizes in seemingly infinite variations. ~Bookhardt / Rubem Robierb: Juxtaposed, Through Dec. 3, Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia Street St., 309-4249; Vanessa Centeno: Inher Reflection, Through Dec. 4, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980.