The Best Shows To See During Miami Art Week

From T. Eliott Mansa's take on the iconic 1970s sunken living room to Didier William's largest exhibition to date at MOCA North Miami, here are the best shows to see during Miami Art Week

BY Monica Uszerowicz in Critic's Guides , Exhibition Reviews , US Reviews | 02 DEC 22

T. Eliott Mansa

Locust Projects

29 November 2022 – 4 February 2023

A blue wallpaper pattern with a diamond pattern; at the center, faces, sculptures, what looks like an overturned car
T. Eliott Mansa, wallpaper pattern for ‘Room for the living / Room for the dead’, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and Locust Projects

Consider the sunken living room, that relic of the 1970s. T. Eliott Mansa might imagine its proximity to the earth – you must descend to enter it – a shortcut to fostering a connection with the spirit world. Memory is a foundation of Mansa’s practice: he uses assemblage and sculpture to create monuments and memorials. In ‘Room for the living / Room for the dead’, Mansa draws on his memories of his family’s conversation pit and transforms the room into a kind of altar: a space for those no longer living. Visitors enter a living room with walls painted Haint blue; as so often in his work, Mansa incorporates Caribbean, Southern and West African religious traditions: the room is centered around a sculptural shelf modeled after the Dikenga Cosmogram, a symbol belonging to the cosmology of the West-Central African Bântu-Kôngo people, which is decorated with images of Mansa’s loved ones. Visitors are invited to lounge, play dominoes and leave offerings to their own ancestors.

Enrique Castro-Cid

[NAME] Publications

1 October 2022 – 22 January 2023

A drawing made upon what looks like yellowed graph paper: a swirling female figure that balloons toward the middle, bottom half up top and top half at the bottom
Enrique Castro-Cid, installation view, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and [Name] Publications

‘Protocol Pressure’ is the first of two exhibitions showcasing the work of the late Enrique Castro-Cid, a Chilean-American artist whose storied life in Santiago, Chile and Miami and New York City, USA, was rich in adventure, chance encounters and relationships with figures like Andy Warhol and an array of socialites. In the 1970s and ’80s, Castro-Cid experimented with using computer design software to transform his paintings, stretching classically proportioned figures with mathematical formulae until they became distorted and surreal. Their strangeness recalls the artist’s determination to devise his own experiments, through which he could explore space as an artistic problem. [NAME] publishes and programs work centered around artists and movements often left out of familiar art-historical narratives; these two shows are part of an ongoing research project on Castro-Cid’s work. You will also find archival materials, including sketches, notebooks and press clippings as part of the organization’s Migrant Archives project.

Clara Varas

Dimensions Variable

22 October 2022 – 10 January 2023

An assemblage which includes draped chains and textiles, an umbrella, jeans, scribbled paint patches
Clara Varas, ‘Between Memory and Desire’, installation view, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and Dimensions Variable

Clara Varas’s assemblages and paintings have a comic tenderness to them, owing both to the artist’s humour and warmth, and the many found objects’ allusions to domesticity, migration and the sense of home. Her paintings incorporate mixed media like umbrellas, shower curtains and clothing. The assemblages mirror the paintings – kaleidoscopic, full of movement and a little precarious. ‘Between Memory and Desire’ references the experience of diaspora – Varas moved to Miami from Havana, Cuba, as a youth – and the self-made rootedness of home in all its peculiarities. In Nos Comimos El Miedo (We Ate Our Fear, 2022), a sculpture that functions as the centerpiece of this exhibition, a plastic flamingo buries its head in a cardboard roll and a bundle of flowers peeks from a ceramic vase. Both objects once had another existence but, preserved and intact, are resurrected with new life here.

Didier William

MOCA North Miami

November 2, 2022 – April 16, 2023

A loosely figurative painting of three figures, approximating two men and a child, gazing out over a ridge at a sunset, their backs toward us
Didier William, Just Us Three, 2021, acrylic, oil, wood carving on panel, 2.6 × 1.7 m. Courtesy: the artist and MOCA North Miami; photograph: Constance Mensh

During Art Week it can be tough to make the journey between the beach and downtown Miami, the traffic and the city’s weakening infrastructure stretching a distance typically traversed in about fifteen minutes. But you’d be remiss not to travel a bit further north to Didier William’s largest exhibition to date. Both the title and setting are aptly retrospective, the former translating to ‘We’ve left that all behind’ in Haitian Creole. The artist himself was raised in North Miami. Curated by Erica Moiah James, the exhibition features new paintings among the more than forty mixed media pieces, some of which refer with great sensitivity to William’s personal experiences in the last few years. William and his husband became parents during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown; in Just Us Three (2021), the figures gaze over a precipice and hold each other, covered in the artist’s signature pattern of eyes, as if they were looking at us, too. MOCA has also partnered with producer and director Marlon Johnson to produce a documentary on William, which is forthcoming. Before leaving MOCA, see Chire Regans a.k.a. VantaBlack’s ‘To What Lengths’, for which the artist has decorated the museum plaza's palm trees with braids, beads and flowers.

Alexandre Diop

Spinello Projects

November 28, 2022 – January 14, 2022

A diptych of white canvases; the left dominated by a scrawled face; the latter by smaller figures and text
Alexandre Diop, The Dead Artist, Thoiaroye 44, 2022, mixed media on wood, 1.8 × 1.25 m. Courtesy: the artist and Spinello Projects; photograph: Jorit Aust

‘[My work] screams,’ Alexandre Diop said in a 2022 interview with Reiffers Art Initiatives. ‘It’s trap music, it’s punk, it’s noise. But there is harmony.’ Diop is a musician and artist, and his massive works are imbued with a kind of intense and explosive spontaneity. Though he often works quickly, the pieces are methodical, communicative, speaking of both hope and violence, comprised of objects Diop collects in streets and scrapyards (animal hair, rope, car parts, wood), pages torn from books, and, sometimes, his own blood. For his show at Spinello Projects, the Franco-Senegalese artist finds inspiration in Berlin, the city where, he said in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist for the Rubell Museum, he began drawing and painting in earnest. There, in a studio in the Reinickendorf district, he immersed himself in a punk environment that might be reflected in the frenetic brushwork of the works such as The Dead Artist, Thoiaroye 44 (2022), a diptych depicting scrawled figures and words. Diop’s exhibition runs concurrently with a year-long solo presentation at the Rubell Museum, where he spent three months as an artist-in-residence.

Tim Biskup

Dale Zine

29 November 2022 – mid-January 2023

A graphite abstract drawing of tubular forms that form a face
Tim Biskup, Lean 23, graphite on newsprint, 30 × 23 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Dale Vine

Tim Biskup’s background in the animation industry is palpable in the colours, swoops and bug-eyed monsters that populate his work. The Southern Californian artist’s illustrations and sculptures are wholesome, playful and a little bit punk. Dale Zine (pronounced dalé), a beloved local independent printer and publisher, opened their new location in January. Husband and wife co-founders Lillian Banderas and Steve Saiz have become equal parts curators, publishers and hosts, with an upcoming exhibition programme at NADA that includes Autumn Casey, Germán Enrique, Natalia Chavarria and Alejandra Moros. Longtime fans, Banderas and Saiz display Biskup’s new graphite drawings of plush, totemic figures – ‘They’re minimal and beautiful to watch come alive,’ says Saiz. Many of these new pieces are pareidolic; in Lean 23, a cartoonish face emerges from tubular swirls and arcs, depending on how carefully you examine its contours. His process is mesmerizing – look up the artist’s TikTok page and you’ll marvel at his balletic wielding of a single hunk of graphite across the page. Visitors can also pick up an accompanying zine or custom prints and originals from the artist’s Los Angeles-based art space, Face Guts, and peruse Dale’s hefty selection of books, zines and prints by local artists and friends.

Main image: Didier William, Mosaic Pool, Miami, 2021, acrylic, collage, ink, wood carving on panel,1.7 × 2.6 m. Courtesy: the artist and MOCA North Miami; photograph: Constance Mensh

Monica Uszerowicz is a writer and photographer based in Miami, USA.