Under a Brilliant Sun: Cundo Bermúdez into the 21st Century at the Freedom Tower

By Manuela Gabaldon


As residents of Miami, most of us have grown to love the hot sticky chaos of our streets. However, as great as our love for the scene may be, it is always nice to find a place that stands above our beloved mess. In my opinion, one of the most peaceful places in Miami is the Freedom Tower’s second floor exhibition space at 600 Biscayne Blvd on a weekday afternoon.

Because of the expected serenity of this place, a standard walkthrough of an exhibition for review turns into a personal experience of the work of an artist; this past month that experience was of the work of renowned Cuban artist, the late Cundo Bermúdez. An amazing display of 104 works, organized by Miami Dade College’s Gallery System, called Under a Brilliant Sun: Cundo Bermúdez into the 21st Century, transports me into a biographical rendition of the artist’s journey.

Modernist Cundo Bermúdez was born in Havana, Cuba on September 3rd, 1914. After an extensive an impressive career in Cuba and around South and Central America, in 1944 Cundo Bermúdez marked the beginning of his worldwide career by participating in a Cuban Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. The exhibit introduced Americans and visitors to Bermúdez’s undeniable talent and a new style heavily influenced by Matisse, Picasso and Dalí. Bermúdez continued to develop internationally, exhibiting his work across the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe. After years of travel, activism, and always art, Bermúdez established himself in our home city of Miami in 1996. Bermúdez lived and breathed art and it has been reported that he worked at his easel until his death in 2008.

Bermúdez’s use of color, movement, life, and visual music is the essence of Cuban art and spirit. From his earlier more literal portraits, to the modern contours of his later years, to his breathtaking mural commissions, Bermúdez’s impact on a city with such Latin roots is important and worthy of tribute. It is only appropriate for the Freedom Tower, a memorial to Cuban immigration, to host such homage to Bermúdez, who has been referred to as the most beloved Cuban artist in Miami. This collection of works by Bermúdez with pieces like La Espia, Homenaje a Picasso, and a series of mural studies hang in the Freedom Tower for a reason: to honor a man whose work translates into every language with the unshakeable and almost tangible folklore and heritage of Cuba.

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