Upstairs, some influential German painters are given space, not the least of whom is Neo Rauch, a leader of the New Leipzig School, which emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Rauch’s work is not abstract; it is influenced by German Expressionism, Social Realism, Surrealism, in fantastic canvases that mix epochs and movements in the imagery. In one scene a figure straight out of Teutonic legend stands over a Romantic-era man, who in turn lords above some abused workers. That perpetual German angst is palpable here, but also dark humor. This room is a must-see.
While exploring this diversity of painting, make sure to stop off in another room upstairs featuring wool works on canvas from another German, Rosemarie Trockel. These couldn’t be more different from those of compatriot Rauch. But this is why the exhibition is called Alone Together. While many of these pieces seem to have little relationship to each other, they do exist within one common world, the world of contemporary art. As the collection notes explain: “Whether it is called a movement, a moment, a school, a group, or an -ism, this greater whole — defined by artists, critics, historians, museums, galleries, collectors, art institutions, and pure chance — creates a community for the artwork that often lives beyond the life of the artist.”
Moving beyond the excellent offering of paintings, several of the installations are also top-notch. Over the years the Rubell Collection has become known for these provocative, off-the-grid sculptures and installations, elevating the sophistication of what Miamians can see to world-class levels.
This year one such stand-out comes from Düsseldorf-based Paloma Varga-Weisz. This is a touching, stark portrayal of the Madonna and child: the two smooth, hairless figures carved from lime-tree wood; the mother cloaked in a green robe, sitting on a tree trunk with her toddler. While the religious reference is here, so is the harkening back to mystical tales from the Germanic Forest, and to a time before material such as plastic was used in art-making. A simple woman in a simple era.
The Charles Ray 1992 piece is what we’ve come to expect from a Rubell boundary-pusher. Eight naked figures all cast in the artist’s mold touch each other, suck each other in an explicit, yet fundamentally impossible way – you could never really do these things to yourself. It’s titled Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley.
But maybe the most powerful installation this year comes from another artist who emerged from a traumatic, challenging time in his home country of Georgia. After the Soviet Union collapsed and the Caucasus region exploded into civil war flames, Andro Wekuo made his escape and eventually transplanted to Switzerland, where he made the multi-media works that take over yet another sprawling space. In one, a sculpture of a young boy, his face erased, stands on a black box in the middle of the room, with the heart-breaking title, What Are You Called, My Child? Also displayed in the room are his intriguing paintings and collages.
These are just some of the samplings in Alone Together. Other paintings and sculptures tell their own stories, ones that you can listen to on head phones. And you have an extended period to hear them. Director Roselione-Valadez says that RFC wants to be a year-round institution, not one that shutters up for the summer, so it will remain open with some limited hours throughout the summer, although they will start to change the exhibit at some point closer to the fall to get ready for the next one.