Visual Culture: Finding the Caribbean at Art Basel

Words by Natalie Weiner—legagneur 2 Art Basel, though legendary in the art world (and for the crazy parties that inevitably go along with it), is not necessarily known for its commitment to diversity. Miami is just one of the festival’s three locations, and especially given the extraordinary variety of cultures found there, the main exhibition is often surprisingly unrepresentative. Luckily, local Miami arts organizations that work to advocate for diasporic artists time some of their most exciting exhibitions to coincide with the festival.

legagneur The “Caribbean Fantastic” exhibit, for example, is taking place at the Multitudes Gallery whose curator Babacar Mbow specifically focuses on presenting art from around the African diaspora. This exhibit, which runs from December 3rd to January 2nd, is centered on Haiti and features Haitian artist Jean Claude Legagneur. Legagneur’s work uses bright colors and strong textures to show the many different faces of Caribbean and American culture, generally through intimate portraits. The show opens tonight, and naturally the gallery is throwing a party to celebrate – specifically, a “Night of Haitian Diplomacy” for Haitian, American, and Haitian-American art fans to eat, drink, and enjoy the paintings. It starts at 7:30 – check out all the details here.

trinidad artist miles regis

A piece by Trinidad’s Miles Regis, at Art of Fusion MIA.

Some other shows to look for if you’re in Miami:

Global Caribbean V, Little Haiti Cultural Center. Opening reception: Friday, December 6, 10:00 AM. Features brunch and a performance by the Peter London Global Dance Company. The Global Caribbean series is now in its fifth year, and is one of Art Basel’s only official events concerning “the visual discourses” on the Caribbean, specifically as they happen in Miami. Look out for artists, curators and specialists from around Miami and the Caribbean.

Les Jacmeliens Trois, Haitian Heritage Museum. Opening reception: Thursday, December 5, 7:00 PM. On display until April 18, 2014. This exhibition features Haitian-American artists Asser Saint Val, Laurenee, Harold Caudio, and Jason Fleuran as they seek to connect the arts-centric town of Jacmel, Haiti with Miami’s vibrant arts scene.

Renaissance: The Works of Philippe Dodard, Miramar Cultural Center. On display until January 25, 2014. Philippe Dodard is a Haitian painter whose work has been exhibited internationally, even serving as the inspiration for a Donna Karan collection. Over 60 pieces of his work will be on display here.

A piece by Haiti's Philippe Dodard, at the Miramar Cultural Center.

A piece by Haiti’s Philippe Dodard, at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Art of Fusion MIA, “Fly Beyond” Pop-Up Gallery in the Wynwood District. Events throughout the weekend. On display December 4th-7th, free and open to the public. This brand-new event, held in conjunction with Art Basel, is specifically designed to celebrate the work of African and Caribbean diasporic artists. The exhibition is being held in a 10,000 square foot tent and includes work from 16 different artists representing all different corners of the diaspora. Also in the tent (which is sponsored in part by Grey Goose… yes, you should probably go) will be a series of different events from concerts to fashion shows to parties, all featuring artists from the Caribbean.