The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jan 06, 2011

Here Comes the Painter, Gustavo Acosta

Posted by Anne Tschida

Since civilization began, when humans started living together in large numbers and setting up social systems in order to keep that grouping going and thriving, the city has come to represent human progress. And as industrialization and the modern age arrived, the city took on even greater significance—as the place where technology and utopian ideas would meet and mesh. As the 20th century marched on, however, the city came to represent something else as well: a lost dream, a place of communal decay, of grandiose plans gone awry.

Cities evoke intense passion, so it's no surprise that artists have been intrigued and obsessed with the urban landscape for ages, and Cuban artist Gustavo Acosta is no exception. Acosta, whose work has been consistently shown across the Americas, has made Miami home since 1994. In a solo exhibit opening at Pan American Art Projects, Acosta pays tribute to his adopted home with Here.

Through the eyes of this powerful painter, fascinated always by the power of architecture, we witness the transformation of Miami in this exhibit. Having watched, as we all have, the boom-and-bust cycles, "Acosta's pieces encapsulate architectural giants in a stand-still moment; whether plummeting to ruins, being erected or standing strong amidst the chaos of a city of lost promise," according to the gallery preview notes.

It's a picture of Miami, but of all urban landscapes too, conveying a sense of pride, sadness and a universal nostalgia about the way we live.

In Here, Acosta depicts radio towers, imploding buildings and rising stadiums, a city destroying itself and recreating itself at the same time. "Through these works the artist is embracing his role in the city," says the gallery description, "grounding his roots and proclaiming his sense of being Here." Miami's lucky that he's here, too.

"Here" opens on Jan. 7 (with reception on Saturday, Jan. 8) at Pan American Art Projects, 2450 N.W. Second Ave., Wynwood; 305-573-2400;

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