One definition of the word “Palimpsest” is “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.” It is also the title of a new group show curated by William Cordova that loosely fits into this descriptive, at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art.
There are traces of themes, of narratives, of histories, but none of them explicit. With several exceptions, most of the works are fairly abstract. The voices and visions expressed here are from a fascinating combination of artists, with works recent and older. Take for instance a pen, pencil and paper piece from a series from Miami’s most famous outsider artist, Purvis Young, from 1979-92. The writing is mostly indecipherable at this point, faded, almost entirely erased–but not quite.
Another '90s piece comes from Gary Moore, a really nice series of encased and sealed collages on index cards, each one with its own little story to tell. Yet another attractive and intriguing grouping comes from Gean Moreno; the simply composed works with some uneven geometric lines and ragged edges seem to be wanting to tell us something, but they can’t quite reveal it.
Cordova has included the work from Yanira Collado in a number of his shows–in her pieces here the story is almost there, literally in text, but most of the lines are hidden under bright fabric strips, a reference to redacting, where we are only allowed to get bits and pieces of information.
Regina Agu has created more explicit relationships to history and culture in her recent ink and collage works. She lives in Houston but comes from West Africa–the image with teeth that include their roots harkens to partially erased “markings” of humans. We can discover the identity of people through their teeth, but the rest of the body is missing. We can read these as discovering ancestry through remains, and also a reminder of how slaves were “valued” and dehumanized, by the strength often of their teeth.
There are other remarkable pieces here, but the small one hanging from the ceiling might jump out first, the mixed-media painting on wood from Salvatore La Rosa. He’s been creating superb paintings for decades, and this latest example from 2012-13 is yet another example. There are a million little things going on in this piece, but it’s also just beautiful to look at.
There is some sculpture too, but all the pieces have a quiet presence, relatively subdued but in no way silent in what they want to say. That’s a tell-tale sign of Cordova’s hand.
Over at the ArtCenter/South Florida (a Knight Arts grantee), the exhibit is far different but the connection is that they are all works from artists at the Jazzar gallery. It’s a new venture for the center, inviting a local gallery to make a “pop-up shop” in the main space on Lincoln Road.
The political and cultural realms inform many of the works here, from the found-object gun sculptures of Roberto Visani; to the huge, brightly colored tape collages of contemporary scenes, such as the Bernie Madoff household, from Kuhl & Leyton; to the smaller colored drawings of Jorge Pantoja which often recall, in a darkened way, classic movies; to the self-portraits of David Rohn, in garbs that make him look like “Dishwasher Forever” and “The Hedge Fund” man.
But maybe the most handsome piece that will keep drawing you back is the bronze sculpture from Robert Huff near the front window. Like La Rosa, you can see the result of someone who has perfected his art-making.
“Palimpsest” runs through Nov. 17 at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art, 158 N.W. 91st St., Miami; www.cjazzart.com. “On Location: Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art” runs through Nov. 3 at ArtCenter/South Florida, 800 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; www.artcentersf.org.