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Carlos Luna: Beyond the Surface
June 3 through September 10, 2023


One of the most dynamic voices in contemporary Latin-American art today, Carlos Luna (American, b. in Cuba, 1969) will be the feature of a monographic exhibition at the Reading Public Museum this summer. The exhibition will be on view in the Meinig Family and World Cultures Galleries on The Museum’s First Floor from June 3 through September 10, 2023. The exhibition will feature nearly 30 works that range from the late 1990s through his most recent productions.

Born in Pinar del Río in rural western Cuba in 1969, Luna was raised in San Luis, known for its high quality cigars and tobacco plantations. He studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and, seeking individual freedom, immigrated to Mexico in 1991, where he spent a decade in Puebla before arriving in Miami, Florida in 2002. During the past thirty years, the artist has formulated a unique visual language — a density of hybrid images — that consists of a magical blend of national identity, Caribbean folklore, Afro-Cuban traditions, visual and verbal puns, and personal familial memories. 

The dazzling iconography of his paintings includes dancing Latin lovers, representations of Guajiro rural culture, symbolic animals such as the rooster, crocodile, horse, lion and elephant, and coffee and sewing machines from the domestic realm. Music, dancing, religion, and elements of the oppressive government of his childhood are also explored in his visually complex works. He builds up his compositions with multi-layered surfaces—bold outlines and intricate patterning—that contribute to the overall meaning and narrative of each work.

His debut exhibition in Reading features a group of Luna's large-scale paintings on canvas and wood, monumental traditional amate paper mixed media works, a selection of sculptures, and tapestries all featuring elements of iconic Cuban culture.

Luna’s influences include the Cuban artist Wilfedo Lam, the seminal artistic movements Cubism and Surrealism, and important Mexican artists such as Jose Guadalupe Posado and Rufino Tamayo, among others. The artist’s work explore themes that — although specific to him and his life experience — resonate universally: life, love, sexuality, freedom, and joy. 

The artist has exhibited throughout the United States and Mexico, including solo exhibitions at The Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California; The American University Art Museum at The Katzen Art Center, Washington, DC; The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, Florida; San Pedro Museo de Arte, Puebla, Mexico; and The Museum of Arts & Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida.




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