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Edouard Duval-Carrié, Imagined Landscapes

Michelle Rodriguez

Edouard Duval-Carrié, After Heade–Hummingbirds, 2013. Mixed media on aluminum, 96 inches diameter. Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Ralph Torres.

Pérez Art Museum Miami
March 13 – August 31, 2014

This piece is contributed by Michelle Rodriguez, The Miami Rail’s new teen correspondent. Rodriguez is a junior at Young Women’s Preparatory Academy.

Through in-depth research and the works of other artists, Haitian-born, Miami-based artist Edouard Duval-Carrié creates a glittery, yet subtly grim, tropical environment in his Imagined Landscapes exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Consisting of eleven paintings and two chandelier-sculptures, the exhibit alludes to the 19th century works of artists such as Martin Johnson Heade, Frederic Edwin Church, and Albert Bierstadt who were commissioned to portray the Caribbean and Florida as picturesque paradises. Although the elaborate decoration of Imagined Landscapes is evocative of a Rococo palace, the concepts the paintings convey are anything but.


Edouard Duval-Carrié, After Bierstadt–The Landing of Columbus, 2013. Mixed media on aluminum, 96 x 144 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: Ralph Torres

Made on pieces of black painted aluminum adorned with silver glitter and layered with clear resin, the eleven paintings transmit Duval-Carrié’s interpretation of the works by European and American artists to show how they successfully masked a tumultuous time in history that was plagued with aggressive Western colonization and violence. In paintings like “Crystal Explorer” and “After Martin Johnson Heade—Cascade and Hummingbirds,” the only human forms are portrayed as full-body silhouettes with a sparkly, almost honeycomb silver pattern coating. In another painting, a native peers out from a lagoon. His is a human face, with a bruised red eye and textured hair, instead of being a figure with a missing identity. The common thread these pieces carry lie in the intensity of their backgrounds—a cyan body of water or a cobalt blue piece of sky, all crowded with dense and dark swathes of flora. By distinguishing the characters, Duval-Carrié poses an unfortunate but true piece of reality that took place during the colonization of these tropical paradises: the colonizers came out shining and gleaming as a result of their successful intrusion, while the natives were left as victims of foreign invasion.

Duval-Carrié also touches on the subject of Western globalization. Minnie Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Marie Antoinette, and Christopher Columbus are some of the characters that reach a sandy shore, while behind them a combat ship floats over shimmery, blue waters in “After Bierstad- The Landing of Columbus.” Meanwhile in “Liberty,” a female silhouette with a body full of silver-glitter geometric motifs and a star-shaped head commendably raises her arms in front of a sky layered with a pattern that is reminiscent of Louis Vuitton’s iconic floral design. Both paintings manage to effectively hint at a modern culture that was somewhat forcibly integrated onto newly discovered territory and its original inhabitants through the exposure of historical Western symbols.

Although the glitter and alluring colors of Imagined Landscapes makes a glamorous impression, Duval-Carrié uses this glitz in the same way the 19th-century artists used their Romanticist aesthetic visions—to influence a distinct, individual perspective of valuable tropical territories onto spectators. Duval-Carrié just chose to display a darker side.