At first, what really impresses about La Galerie Bertin-Toublanc is its ampleness. When visiting the space, one doubts whether this is the biggest art gallery in town or just a palace standing in front of one’s eyes. Rooms are connected through long corridors in which the viewer can see the work of young artists from different parts of the world. The gallery opened to the public during Art Basel Miami Beach 2007, presenting simultaneous exhibitions that included pieces of Mauro Perucchetti (England), Liu Bolin (China) and Supakitch (France), among others.
Ubiquity by Supakitch compiles a series of pieces made in acrylic on canvas that strongly recall the pop iconography. Very colorful panels are located on the wall, representing the big city life. Vinyl records flourish among the buildings while musical notes rain everywhere. A sculpture (round sound equipment) reminds us of a shy animal that in spite of its short ears, has an enormous set of headphones to listen to himself play. A noticeable combination of the Manga aesthetics with American culture is evident in the creation of the imaginary character Sup Animal, which happens to be in constant evolution. Will he eventually become a new type of werewolf in Paris? Sup Animal exhales the magnetism of Kyo Sohma, the charming trouble-maker from the animated series Fruits Basket created by Natsuki Takaya. He looks wild and well-mannered at once, with his face covered by feathers and his impeccable suit. There is also a clear reference to the art of Roy Lichtenstein in Supakitch’s work, especially in the way he presents cartoon-like drawings and texts.
The solo photo exhibition by Liu Bolin shows transparent silhouettes that are incorporated to a great variety of landscapes. Different people camouflage into the environment, political statements advertised, objects found on the road, Chinese calligraphy, the waters of a river, blue bricks raising a wall, colored posters and street murals. Citizens of China surrender to a democratic, voluntary loss of identity, disappearing behind impassible brushstrokes. The work of Liu Bolin presents a metaphorical interpretation of the death of the individual who may be lethally suffocated in the bounds of dogmatic schemes, prejudiced systems of belief, opinionated conspiracies. What color should one dress in / hold on when one is asked to do so? Blue? White? Red? Is it better for us to pick only one tint or to vanish, evaporate forever? Should we hide in places where we can see everything that’s happening around without being actually seen?
Mauro Perucchetti works with glowing transparent resin, creating colossal sculptures called Jelly Babies. In the beginning, Peruchetti explored traditional materials such as bronze and wood, but he soon felt the need of going after other more uncultivated substances. Risky Business is the title of a free standing cross filled with an assortment of condoms that seem to be frozen in time and space. “I am questioning the inflexibility of religion on the subject of contraception,” says the artist in an interview posted on the gallery’s website. Perucchetti nourishes his work with the essence of pop and Minimal art. Some pieces make direct reference to the art of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol while others, like the black skull with military helmet, speak more closely to the work of one of the Young British artists, Damien Hirst.
La Galerie Bertin-Toublanc is currently presenting an array of shows by Asian, European, Hindu and Latin-American artists. It invites travelers, local artists and regular viewers to stop by. Indeed, this might be the kind of space that Miami has attracted after becoming a desireble art market place.