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BEYOND THE COLLECTOR’S KABINET (Part II) curated by Raisa Clavijo


OPENING: Friday, Aug 19, 2016


Kendall Art Center opens its doors on July 15, 2016 with an exhibition that will include significant pieces from the Leonardo Rodríguez Collection, Beyond the Collector’s Kabinet, curated by Raisa Clavijo. The exhibition includes works by Gustavo Acosta, Jairo Alfonso, Pedro Ávila, Jose Bedia, Cundo Bermúdez, Javier Brewster Brockmann, Ramón Carulla, Angel Delgado, Rafael Diéguez Ferrer, Maikel Domínguez, Tomas Esson, Antonio Guerrero, Joaquín González, Silvio Gaytón, Aisar Jalil, Manuel Mendive, Jose María Mijares, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Gina Pellón, Lisyanet Rodríguez, Zaida del Río, Ciro Quintana, Rubén Torres Llorca and Pedro Vizcaíno.


According to Leonardo Rodriguez, the center plans to have a rich program of exhibitions. “Kendall Art Center aims to educate and create an ongoing dialogue with the public in the concepts of contemporary art and its role in society,” he says. “Our vision is to be an active participant of the art community in South Florida and abroad while enriching the quality of life and art experience of the our community.”


The Rodriguez Collection is privately financed by Leo Rodriguez and his family and is one of Miami’s largest, privately owned Cuban contemporary art collections. The collection reflects significant artistic developments in contemporary art by established artists from Cuba, U.S. and abroad. 

Notes on The Rodríguez Collection


By Raisa Clavijo

At the present time, private collections are the engine driving the art market. Larry’s List, the largest worldwide database of private collectors, created in 2012 by the German economist Magnus Resch, demonstrates the immense power of collectors in the international art scene.


If twenty years ago a masterpiece sold at Christie’s, Sotheby’s or Phillips was destined for a public museum in London, Paris or New York; today it would very probably end up in a private collection in London, New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, Sao Paulo or even Saint Petersburg. The first global report on contemporary art collectors prepared by Resch states that there are currently between 8,000 and 10,000 collectors of importance, whose actions influence the global art market. This study also points to a notable increase in museums and private exhibition spaces open to the public. Resch reveals that 72% of these spaces have been established since the year 2000. The creation of museums and exhibition spaces has become a well-chosen strategy in order to increase and professionalize private collections. The injection of private funds into the budgets of public art institutions has also increased, as has collectors’ active participation on museum advisory councils, committees and boards of trustees.


In the last fifteen years, Miami has witnessed a growth in private collections for the enjoyment of the public, as well as in the presence of works of art from private collections displayed at various museums. Also worthy of note has been private collectors’ support for numerous projects oriented at inspiring and promoting the work of contemporary artists. Among the many collectors who have contributed to changing the image of the city, of note are Martin Z. Margulies, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz, Don and Mera Rubell, Jorge M. Pérez, Norman and Irma Braman, Debra and Dennis Scholl, Howard Farber, Ella Fontanals Cisneros, Craig Robins, and the Ortiz Gurdián family. The collection accumulated by Leonardo Rodríguez and his family over several decades has recently been added to this considerable list. This collection is available for the viewing pleasure of the South Florida community at the Kendall Art Center to be inaugurated in the month of July.


Leonardo Rodríguez is of Cuban origin and has for 30 years treasured a vast collection of modern and contemporary Cuban art, which is continually being enriched and expanded. Leonardo started buying and selling works of art in his native Havana at the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century. He basically started off by acquiring antiquities. Then he started buying works by modern and contemporary Cuban artists. When he emigrated to the United States at the end of the 1990s, he was only able to bring twelve works of art, the least valuable. In Miami he continued this passion; he got to know artists and reconstructed his collection, which currently has several hundred pieces. His passion for collecting is guided by the relationship he sees between the work of the artist and his own vision of the world. “When I buy a piece, I always investigate; I find out about its meaning and the context in which it was created. I have to establish a dialogue with the piece in order to live with it,” he commented in a conversation we had in May of this year.


The Rodríguez Collection contains several outstanding pieces by José Bedia.  Among them, of note is Señora del Chichicate, a large oil painting presided over by a central figure whose symbolism could be associated with Obatalá, a major orisha, creator the earth, lord and master of all minds, thoughts and dreams. Manuel Mendive is another of the artists present in this collection whose work is inspired by the legacy of the Afro-Cuban culture and religion. Pieces such as Espíritu del monte (1999), and Hijos del agua (1991) transport us to a mythical universe, filled with ancient stories and teachings. Another outstanding piece is Staging of the Last Farewell to Cuban Art (2013) by Ciro Quintana, iconic representative of Cuban art of the 1980s, whose work in neo-pop codes combines the aesthetics of comics with a neo-historic revision of the legacy of western art in order to question the institutional and market excesses and the outdated canons of valuation that govern artistic creation. Another piece that is worth mentioning is Adorno Número Uno (2015) by Rubén Torres Llorca in which the artist appropriates kitsch codes and icons from popular American culture to question what is traditionally recognized as “art” and “high culture.” The collection also contains several works by Pedro Vizcaíno from his series “Gangueros,” which along with pieces by Angel Delgado, Geandy Pavón, Aisar Jalil, José Orbeín, Néstor Arenas, Henry Ballate, Ahmed Gómez, Zaida del Río, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Pedro Avila Gendis, Silvio Gaytón, Vicente Dopico Lerner, Ramón Carulla, among other artists, offer a panorama of the evolution of Cuban art over the past four decades both within and outside of the island. Additionally, the collection is enriched by the works of Gina Pellón, José María Mijares, Cundo Bermúdez, Guido Llinás and Hugo Consuegra, artists of the so-called “avant garde,” an expression of modernism in the Cuban context.


The Rodríguez Collection has an acquisition program that aims to enrich this cultural offering not only with the work of Cuban artists, but also with the contribution of creators from other parts of the world, in keeping with the multicultural social context of today’s Miami.


Initiatives such as that of Leonardo Rodríguez demonstrate that the relationship between patronage and collecting is still valid. In the international art scene there are many informed and responsible collectors, who bet on the work of the artists they collect and support them in their careers. Collecting means being sensitive to artistic production and understanding the period and its historic flux, since what we collect today will be part of the history of art within a few decades. It is not merely a matter of establishing an emotional and fetishlike relationship with the object, but also of conceiving of the collection as a space for the exchange of ideas, a platform for the research and development of art, while contributing to the formation of more cultured and socially-committed people of all ages.


Miami, June 2016.


Raisa Clavijo is a curator, historian and art critic. She is the founder and editor of the magazines ARTPULSE and ARTDISTRICTS. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the History of Art (Universidad de La Habana) and a Master’s in Museology (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico D.F.). From 2002 to 2006, she was Curatorial Director at the Museo Arocena in Mexico. In 2007 in Miami, she launched the publication Wynwood: The Art Magazine where she served as editor until 2009. She currently heads ARTIUM Publishing.


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Kendall Art Center opens its doors on July 15, 2016 with BEYOND THE COLLECTOR’S KABINET (Part I and II) an exhibition that include significant pieces from the Leonardo Rodríguez Collection features 40 artists of the so-called “avant garde,” an expression of modernism in the Cuban context. 

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