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Ricardo Brey

Rest before labour, 2014–2015

Ricardo Brey solo exhibition Adrift at De Domijnen Museum, Sittard, Netherlands.

Institution's press release: 

Museum De Domijnen is proud to present an exhibition with recent work by Cuban artist Ricardo Brey (Havana, 1955) from February 2019 onwards. It is the artist's first solo exhibition in the Netherlands in fifteen years. In Brey's recent drawings, sculptures and photo-related works, his interest in existential themes, ecology and mystical traditions comes together. Brey is recognized as one of the world's leading contemporary artists. His work focus, among other things, on the relationship between human beings and nature, on cultural identity and on the interaction between different cultures and religions. Brey participated in 1981 in the illustrious exhibition Volumen I at the Centro de Arte Internacional in Havana - an exhibition that became synonymous with the emergence of new generation of avant-garde artists in Cuba after the Revolution; a development also called the 'Cuban Renaissance'. Brey lived in Havana for a long time and settled in Ghent in 1991.

Since his participation in Jan Hoet's Documenta IX in Kassel (1992), Brey's work has been seen in countless institutions in Europe and beyond. SMAK devoted a solo exhibition to the artist in 2006, as did the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana in 2014. In 1998 Brey received the cultural prize from the Flemish Community, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship for installation art and sculpture. In 2015, the M HKA presented a major retrospective of his work in Belgium at three locations in Antwerp. The same year, Brey was represented at the 57th Venice Biennale with a comprehensive presentation.

Ricardo Brey is by no means unknown to the Dutch art scene. In 1996, the then Kunstcentrum Sittard (!) Organized an exhibition of Brey's work, and in 2004 the GEM presented a retrospective of the artist at The Hague. In 2017, the municipality of Sittard-Geleen acquired two important works by Brey, which were presented in the exhibition one. Recent acquisitions for the contemporary art collection.

In his most recent work, Brey focuses on European traditions in art, the history of philosophy and religion. Just as the historical avant-garde in the twentieth century developed modern art based on the art of Brey's African ancestors, Brey aims to develop his Afrocuban background through an interpretation of the European Gothic, new a-historical, global and inclusive new art form. A reversal of primitivism in twentieth-century art.

From 2000 onwards, Brey decided to no longer focus on producing individual works but to concentrate on developing wide-ranging, conceptually coherent projects and series. After participating in the Venice Biennale, Brey developed the concept for the Adrift project (2015-present), that at this moment still forms a seemingly inexhaustible source of material. The project has a strong existential dimension and is aimed at generating changes and breaks within the work of the artist. Within this heterogeneous group of works, Brey makes seemingly great leaps between different media, techniques, formats and subjects. Until now, Adrift has resulted in large groups of works that incorporate photographic elements, small scale drawings, as well as a variety of new sculptures.

In 2019 various museums and institutions will show each show parts of Adrift. In the spring of 2019, solos will take place in Sittard and Alexander Gray Associates in New York. From December 2019 the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus in Bremen presents a solo by Brey. The exhibition in Sittard is mainly focused on photo-related works that are part of Adrift. In these installations the artist uses commissioned photography as a starting point, combining these with sculptural elements, drawing and painting. The works often have global deforestation and climate change as their subject. In addition to photo-related works, a selection of other works from the Adrift project will be presented, including drawings and new sculptures. Many of the works were made at the museum for the first time.

The exhibition will be documented in a comprehensive publication that highlights the various components within the Adrift project. This publication, initiated by Museum De Domijnen, which forms a collaboration with the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus in Bremen and the MER publishing house in Ghent, will be presented in September 2019.

The work of Ricardo Brey is represented by Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

February 10 – June 10, 2019
De Domijnen Museum
Sittard, Netherlands