Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia
A major career retrospective of the work of José Bedia at Miami Art Museum (MAM) explores the influence of indigenous cultures and religions from Cuba, North and South America, and Africa on the artist’s work over the last three decades. Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia, featuring 35 artworks including large-scale figurative paintings, installations and drawings, highlights the layering of spiritual, social and historical constructs in Bedia’s body of work—all of which are retold through a highly personal lens. On view from Thursday, May 24 through Sunday, September 2, 2012, the exhibition is the first to comprehensively examine the rich iconography of Bedia’s artistic output.
Bedia is an acclaimed member of Cuba’s “Generation of the ‘80s,” a group of pioneering young artists who incorporated Cuban vernacular and spiritual references into their work and experimented with eclectic visual forms. Throughout the last 30 years, Bedia has traveled to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico, North American Plains, Amazonian rain forest, Dominican countryside, and the Central African savanna, among numerous other locations, in search of artistic and spiritual peers and to participate in what he defines as “diverse spiritual worlds.” The featured works in Transcultural Pilgrim—with their sacred and autobiographical references, strong graphic quality, and philosophical complexity—represent the traces of Bedia’s artistic and spiritual journeys, which have shaped his artistic practice. The exhibition also includes select objects from Bedia’s personal collection, housed in his Miami home, which have inspired the forms and content of his work.
About José Bedia
José Bedia was born in January 1959, the same month and year that Fidel Castro marched into Havana. He graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte and was included in the groundbreaking Havana Biennials of the 1980s. He was selected for the exhibition Magiciens de la terre, held at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1989 and in 1991 moved to Mexico. In 1993, he immigrated to the United States. He presently lives and works in Miami.
Bedia’s major projects include an invitational installation concurrent with the Saõ Paulo Biennial and a travelling retrospective organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, both in 1994; and exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey, Mexico, and Site Santa Fe in New Mexico in 1997; and a major solo exhibition at the Museo de Badajoz, Spain, in 2004. In spring 2011, the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, mounted a retrospective exhibition of Bedia’s installations.
Bedia’s work is in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Guggenheim Museum; and the Miami Art Museum, among others.
About the Curators
Judith Bettelheim holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and is Professor Emerita of Art History at San Francisco State University where she taught from 1980-2009. She specializes in the Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora with an emphasis in Afro‐Caribbean culture. She has received funding for fieldwork and publications from the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Rockefeller Research Colloquium. In 1988, Bettelheim co‐curated and co‐authored Caribbean Festival Arts for the Saint Louis Art Museum. She is the editor of Cuban Festivals: A Century of AfroCuban Culture (2001). She authored "Ethnicity, Gender, and Power in Carnaval in Santiago de Cuba" in Negotiating Performance in Latin/o America (1994). In 2005 she curated the traveling exhibition AfroCuba: Works on Paper 1968-2003, and in 2008 published “Lam’s Caribbean Years: An Intercultural Dialogue,” in Wifredo Lam at the Miami Art Museum.
Janet Catherine Berlo is an art historian who specializes in the indigenous arts of the Americas. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and is a Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999 and a Getty Fellowship in 1995, and is the author of numerous articles and books on the arts of the Americas, including Plains Indian Drawings 1865 - 1935 (1996), Black Hawk’s Vision of a Lakota World (2000), Native North American Art (with Ruth Phillips, 1998), Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers (2000), and American Encounters, Art, History and Cultural Identity (co‐authored, 2008). Berlo has conducted field research in Native American communities from Guatemala to the Canadian arctic.