Weaving together the artistic roots of his native Cuba with influences from Mexico, Carlos Luna’s art explores the layers of personal and popular stories that have shaped his world. In Deep Line Drawings, on view August 8 through December 31, 2017, the artist invites viewers to experience the depth of the line and the richness that is underneath the “skin” of his work. Luna incorporates cultural symbols and language in his use of traditional processes to reveal a vibrant look at modern perceptions of Latin America.
Carlos Luna was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba in 1969. He was affiliated with “Art of the 80s” movement of dissident artists but left the country in in 1991, as did many Cubans who emigrated after the fall of the Soviet Union. As a young artist he learned from Picasso’s Cubism, Leger’s mechanical images, and Latin American Baroque, as well as the great Cuban artists such as Wilfredo Lam and Mario Carreño. After leaving Cuba, Luna lived in Puebla, Mexico and absorbed its culture, particularly the storytelling of the Mexican muralists and the decorative motifs of its ceramics. In 2002 he moved to Miami where he still resides.
Luna’s work is semi-autobiographical and reflects the influence of the three countries where he has lived, in particular the rural Cuba of his childhood. Luna grew up in an area where the beliefs and culture of the Cuban descendants of African Yoruba culture are particularly strong. The sacred forest is home to medicinal plants and the deified ancestors, orichas, whose symbols often appear in Luna’s work. Eyes are a recurring theme, reflecting both the watchful government as well as Eleggua, the Afro-Cuban trickster god who observes human folly and accomplishment.
Luna’s recurring patterns and sinuous lines reflect the energy and rhythms of the lively guajiro music of his childhood. This area of the countryside is also known for producing the high quality tobacco used to make the famous Havana cigars. This is another motif that shows up in Luna’s work, sometimes in the mouth of the mustached guajiro man on horseback. Another common theme is the small but brave and feisty rooster, a symbol of Cuba and a kind of alter ego for the artist.
Luna tells stories, whether they are remembered from his childhood or gleaned from popular media, and often includes words in both English and Spanish. These can be common idioms, clever word play, or Cuban slang, sometimes written backwards.
“Deep Line Drawings is about the line underneath the surface,” Luna says about this exhibition, “underneath the skin.”
Luna’s work includes paintings, ceramics, and drawings on amate paper. This paper is hand-made from tree bark in a process that dates to Pre-Columbian times. He then applies paint, scrapes it away, and continues to build up layers that result in subtle surfaces and refined images. This exhibition will include paintings and drawings, and an installation of ceramic plates placed on a newly painted mural.
Deep Line Drawings by Carlos Luna is made possible by the Museum’s Exhibition Leadership Fund. Additional support is provided in part by the City of Boca Raton; the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Additional support is generously provided by our Members and Donors.