ICA Miami is proud to present “Carlos Alfonzo: Late Paintings,” which brings together over a dozen paintings from 1990, the artist’s final year of production. Relying on an established exhibition and research practice of delving into significant periods in artists’ work, ICA Miami takes a deep and definitive look at the final series of works in Alfonzo’s oeuvre. The largest gathering of works from this final period to be exhibited in decades, this show includes works that haven’t been presented publicly since the artist’s death.
Alfonzo has emerged over the last twenty years as one of the preeminent painters of the 1980s. In the short decade between his departure from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift of 1980 and his untimely death in 1991 from AIDS-related complications, he generated a consistent body of work that intrepidly reinvigorated expressionist painting with unexpected references to a number of cultural and semantic systems, including Cuban Santería and other religious practices. Although most of Alfonzo’s production involves highly colorful and dynamic compositions, during the last year of his life he radically reduced his color palette and engaged in a concentrated deployment of pictorial markings. The large, somber paintings of this final period pivot on a surprising range of emotional tones and sophisticated dialogue with art history.
Alfonzo was born in Havana in 1950. He graduated from the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro in 1973 and the University of Havana in 1977. An active participant in Cuba’s artistic community during the 1970s, Alfonzo grew increasingly disenchanted with the Revolution, frustrated by travel restrictions and pervasive homophobia. He left Cuba in 1980. As that decade went on, he began to exhibit internationally, and in 1991 participated in the Whitney Biennial and the seminal, multi-venue show “The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s.” He was also included in a number of traveling exhibitions that showcased LatinX artists in the 1980s and 1990s. Alfonzo received fellowships from the CINTAS Foundation (1983–84) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1984). His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska, among other institutions. Alfonzo died in Miami in 1991.
“Carlos Alfonzo: Late Paintings” is organized by ICA Miami and curated by Gean Moreno, Director, Knight Art + Research Center.
Exhibitions at ICA Miami are generously supported by the Knight Contemporary Art Fund at The Miami Foundation.
Major support is provided by Annie and Manny Kadre, and Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer. Support is provided by Peter and Bonnie Dockter, and LnS Gallery, Miami. Additional support is provided by Tony Ulloa, Jane Wesman and Donald Savelson, Florida Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, and National Endowment for the Arts.