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Enrique Martínez Celaya: Nomad

November 2, 2007 - January 13, 2008


Enrique Martínez Celaya, winner of 2007's prestigious National Artist Award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, premiered Nomad, an installation of new paintings on November 2, 2007 at Miami Art Museum.

Cuban-born Martínez Celaya is creating this group of five large-scale, oil-and-wax paintings which explore issues of exile and rootlessness, especially for his MAM exhibition. Nomad's enormous central painting, ten feet tall by twenty-one feet wide, features the image of a leopard crossing a wintry landscape, a traveler out of place in time and space. The canvas is rendered entirely in black-and-white. Flanking this image are four paintings symbolic of the seasons, painted in virtuoso fashion and in rich, full color. Each of these "seasons" paintings features a central image of a young girl carrying a dead leopard over her shoulders. The paintings evoke the dream-like state of suspension in which the exile lives: time passes and yet nothing changes.

Martínez Celaya works in a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture and installation. He is perhaps best known for his large-scale paintings made from tar and other materials. Influenced by the writings of poets and philosophers, these rich and brooding paintings suggest deep feelings of loneliness, yearning and desire for connection. His portrait of Leon Golub was included in MAM's presentation of Big Juicy Paintings (and More) in 2006.

The paintings in Nomad represent a significant departure from the dark tar paintings. Using a mix of oil and wax, Martínez Celaya employs a new, brighter, more colorful palette. He achieves a sense of lush beauty unprecedented in his work.

Martínez Celaya received the Anderson Ranch Arts Center National Artist Award for 2007 in July at the Ranch's facilities in Snowmass Village, Colorado. The award is given to a nationally or internationally recognized artist who has supported artists, created innovations in art education, and whose career has set an example and a direction for other artists. He was cited for "his commitment not only to his own creative vision, but also through his efforts to encourage collaborations between art and other intellectual and creative fields."

Miami Art Museum is dedicated to engaging the public with art from the twentieth century through the present. Since its founding in 1996, the museum has built a collection of contemporary art with the goal of providing Miami with a legacy for future generations. MAM's holdings have grown exponentially since Art in America called it "the quintessential Miami collection" in 1999. The MAM collection is dedicated to international art of the 20th and 21st centuries, taking a hemispheric perspective on the Americas.

The exhibition is organized by Miami Art Museum and curated by Assistant Director for Programs/Senior Curator Peter Boswell as part of New Work, a series of projects by leading contemporary artists. It is supported by the Funding Arts Network and MAM's Annual Exhibition Fund.


About the Artist

Enrique Martínez Celaya was born in Palos, Cuba in 1964. He studied physics at Cornell University and quantum electronics at the University of California, Berkeley where he was supported by a fellowship from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 1994, five years after abandoning the Ph.D. program at Berkeley, he concluded his M.F.A. at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was awarded the highest honor and a department fellowship to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig and others. His awards include the California Community Foundation Fellowship, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Art Here and Now Award, the Anderson Ranch National Artist Award and the Hirsch Grant. In addition to his visual work, he has written and edited books, papers and essays on the nature of art and its relationship to literature, science and philosophy. He lives and works with his wife and three children in Los Angeles and Delray Beach, Florida


About the Curator

Peter Boswell has been Assistant Director for Programs/Senior Curator at the Miami Art Museum since September 1999. He is responsible for oversight of all activities of the curatorial and education departments at the museum, including exhibitions and public programs. Exhibitions he has curated at MAM include Miami Currents: Linking Collection and Community (with Lorie Mertes and Cheryl Hartup) (2002); New Work: Donald Lipski (2002); New Work: Teresita Fernández (2002); New Work: Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt (2003); Between Art and Life: From Joseph Cornell to Gabriel Orozco (2004); Robert Rauschenberg (2005); Wangechi Mutu (2005); Mapping Space: Selections from the Collection, Vik Muniz: Reflex (2006,) Power of Ten (2007), and Jan Dibbets: Perspective Collection (2007). Prior to joining MAM, Mr. Boswell served for three years as Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome and for 10 years on the curatorial staff of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Mr. Boswell has a BA with a major in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in Art History from Stanford University.


Exhibition essay

Please click here to read Peter Boswell's essay: "Enrique Martínez Celaya: Nomad."



Whale and Star Press will produce a book in conjunction with the exhibition. The book will be available in the MAM Store.



(above: Enrique Martinez Celaya, Primavera (Spring), 2007, 116 x 150 inches, Oil and wax on canvas)


(above: Enrique Martinez Celaya, Verano (Summer), 2007, 116 x 150 inches, Oil and wax on canvas)


(above: Enrique Martinez Celaya, Otoño (Autumn), 2007, 116 x 150 inches, Oil and wax on canvas)


(above: Enrique Martinez Celaya, Invierno (Winter), 2007, 116 x 150 inches, Oil and wax on canvas)


(above: Enrique Martinez Celaya, Nunca y Siempre (Never and Always), 2007, 116 x 250 inches, Oil and wax on canvas)

Images courtesy of Sara Meltzer Gallery, photographed by Joe Woolf.

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