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Alejandro Mendoza

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Mixed media wall sculpture.
Variable dimension.

It is not by its fruit that we know a city, but by its reflections, for the harvest of civic gathering is too plentiful in its panoply, but the highest thoughts and best lights are the seeds cities sow and only these matter. The luminous denotation of reflection has long been the metaphor of the import of cities. From the first, they have stood against the darkness of wilderness, and from its elevations shimmering temples and lighthouses have marked their them as oases against opaque chaos. All cities are the ville lumiere—behold how satellite photos link the tungsten wounds and veins of a world at night with the fields polis has plowed. Reflection also denotes the capacity to know oneself, to ponder the inner agora and labyrinth of the self, an activity which becomes extolled in human life precisely upon the invention of urbanity. In this way, reflection joins the male and female principles—the walls of the city wombing its myriad cluster of citizens who thereby impose the virility of order and law upon the natural world, and this in turn permits the emergence of complex culture, art, religion, and philosophy, to kindle the hand mirror into the hearth of self knowledge.
It is fitting that a contemporary Cuban-American sculptor, Alejandro Mendoza (who is also known for his mixed-media drawings), should be so focused on the theme of the city, in Miami, a place not yet a polis but slouching toward this eventual destiny, despite itself. Indeed, Miami is obsessed with this yearning, culling to its freshly painted shores international this and that, fairs and glamour events, all the trappings of an age whose unspoken belief in celebrity magic embraces the dogma of a fatal equation between notoriety and fame, to bypass those labored centuries of glory and epic from which, once upon a time, true cities and their civilizations rose—and when they crumbled, they lingered in something known as history. Little wonder Miami calls itself the Magic City. Mendoza, after all, comes from Havana, the only cosmopolis of the Caribbean which its Miami doppelganger has tried to replace, an opportunism which owes its smoke-and-mirror plausibility to Cuba’s half century of progressive totalitarian ruin. But to his credit, Mendoza has cultivated a complex approach to the failures and triumphs of accelerated urbanity—the central theme of much of his work, embodied in Miami, the add-water-and-stir version of instant citea. Mendoza is an archeologist of the living mixed with an acerbic commentator on what does not yet know its fossil self.
“Giants in the City,” a project launched in 2008, is directed by Mendoza. It is a changing anthology of colossal, inflatable sculptures designed by established artists, many of them Miamians. The fluid sculpture park travels to different venues, lifts like a circus tent, bedazzles, then collapses into suitcases and heads home. The result is original, not only because of what the medium does to themes and images of artists whose works we know in other media, but intrinsically as a sculptural expression. The postmo double-irony of auto-congratulatory transitoriness (in truth, hoping desperately to be taken for permanent) was born from Christo’s wrappings and has been regurgitated ever since in horizon-filling numbers of cheeky installations. “Giants” has given this double-irony a full-fledged medium, celebrating ephemerality while denying it with its simple power of repeatability. The complexity of tone embodied in “Giants” discloses a distinctly and restless Miami point-of-view—like that of a surfer revolted by the sea he must ride. Miami has crested into puberty on a wave of faux-confusion and real vanity imported from tired poleis, settings where such attitudes are authentic. Lost in the panic to be taken seriously by the congenitally frivolous were Miami’s concentric orbits of exile and extra-territorial cultural survival, the new assimilation dynamics which are redefining America and the world and were forged here over a generation ago. Also lost is the emergence of a new urban consciousness resulting from these concentricities, a new epic, as it were, of civic man. It is these derailments which Mendoza explores in his new sculptures.
The key to engaging these works by Mendoza is the ambiguity in the word reflection, central as it is to the congealment of personal and community identity. In many of the works, the bare scribble of copper trees emerges like a pictograph of bled nature, but also a sign of legacies whose origins and evolutions have lost their meaning. Reminiscent of kitsch decor, the trees are tubular compositions that echo what should have endured as a living continuum—a communion with nature and with legacies which did not need to die. In Recalculating Route, one such tree towers upon the landing deck of an aircraft carrier half-emerging from a wall as from a maritime fog. The bare tree denies function to this most pragmatic of constructions by not only sprouting but doing so gigantically and, beyond that, lifelessly. It becomes evident that much of Mendoza’s visual thinking is guided by a surrealist sense of semantic gamesmanship, thankfully without the tattooing of works with texts. His aesthetic of juxtaposition and irony hails from Duchamp, but it aims at something more lasting than emphasizing the origins of creativity in recovering the neglected mystery of objects and thereness. Mendoza’s linguistic, post-Dada sensibility makes ambiguity rather than objectivity the ultimate target of its contemplation. The trite formula of the tree reflected visibly by water or cryptically by its branching root system, is presented cleanly for analysis in Requiem. Does the title mourn reflection itself, in all its denotations, this overused device, or nature itself in an eco-sentimental moment? The direct and uncluttered image resists an easy allocation of meaning and revels in ambiguity.
Many of Mendoza’s sculptures use the implicit metaphor of navigation openly cited in Recalculating Route. The chain-link fence in Enormous bulges like a sail on the frigate of a burnt beam, and the ruler in Paisaje Calculado (Calculated Landscape) functions likewise as an ironic platform whose familiarity as an object and whose confident numbers are counter-rhythmed by the various tree forms. Here, perhaps most saliently, we are reminded of the difference between a dynamic form (e.g. whirlpool), an indefinite but recognizable form (e.g. a tree), and a hard-edged form (e.g. table, cube). The ruler, borrowing metonymically the shady effect of the trees as indefinite forms, recovers its identity as a symbol of the infinite, a synecdoche that stands for a greater whole, a twig of the horizon. The coffin-like box in Memento Mori frames in its private reflection pool a segment of the dead, upside-down branch, simultaneously promising enshrinement and proving the impossibility of keeping that promise. It is fragments of memory which survive death, perhaps, and what once lived must be reminded of denied wholeness across time.
One of the signature pieces in the exhibition, Desolate is another lucid foray into ambiguity. It exhales a weapon-like feeling, resembling a serrated yet vain device whose futility is its deadliness, a sub-theme that runs through many other works in this exhibition. Desolate sums up Mendoza’s fusion of the ambiguities of reflection with the city, as a skyline of Lucite buildings toy upon a wooden platform, floating, going nowhere. It represents a new twist on the Narcissus story, for the not-yet city casts a beautiful reflection, iconically so, on its bay, yet it cannot see itself, too busy already preening for an audition before an illusory choir of its admirers. More ironically, the translucent buildings are vessels of light and emptiness, aspirations to prisms yet incurably bereft of color. We can see them as the seeds of a future polis or the gravestones of a failed light.

Art Critic Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Alejandro Mendoza

1967 born in La Habana, Cuba

Lives and works in Miami, Fl, United States


1987 National School of the Art and Graphics Design, Havana, Cuba.
1992 ISPEJV. Higher Institute of the Art, Habana, Cuba.


• Grant Winner Miami DDA, Down Town Development Authority, 2011.
• Grant Winner Miami-Dade Community and Tourist Development Council Grants Program 2008, 2010, 2011.
• Grant winner Miami-Dade Division of Cultural Affairs Community Grant Program 2008,2010,2011
• GIANTS IN THE CITY. Miami Premier Project. Founder Artist and Curator.
• Grant Winner The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Awarded a Knight Foundation Arts Partnership Grant 2008
• Best Show. IX Exposición de Arte Latinoamericano y del Caribe, Museum of the Americas and Broward Community College South Campus, Pembroke Pines, FL, USA. 2006
• Spiritual VII International Exhibition “High Standard of excellence”. USA. 2005
• SOHO International Art Competition, New York .USA. 2002
• Winner of Kansas City Artists Coalition's. USA .2002
• Honorable mention Arte Joven, Universidad de las Américas, Puebla México.1998
• Honorable mention Salón Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo Cubano. Centro Wilfredo Lam, Cuba.1990
• Premio Jornada Científica Pedagógica, ISPEJV, La Havana, Cuba .1987

Solo Exhibitions

• 2012 " THE LAST EMPTINESS" Coral Gables Museum. Anthony R. Abraham Family Gallery.Coral Gables, FL. USA
• 2009 “ MIGRATIONS”, Domingo Padron Gallery, Coral Gables, FL.USA.
• 2008 “ CROSS-ING CULTURES”, CAC. The Chico Art Center, Chico, California, USA.
• 2007 “ CROSS-ING RENO”, “Sierra Arts Gallery”, Sierra Arts Foundations, Reno, NV. USA.
• 2005 “ CROSS-ING LAREDO”, Laredo Center for the Arts, Goodman Gallery, Laredo TX,USA
• 1992 “APOTEOSIS TROPICAL” Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana, Cuba.
• 1991 “ HECHO EN CUBA” Galería, 23 Y 12, La Habana, Cuba.
• 1990 “ Lo Criollo Eres Tu”, Galería Casa Estudiantil El Castillito, ISPEJV. Habana, Cuba.

Group Exhibitions

• 2012 Contemporary African Diaspora Memory in Motion. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, African Presence2012, Ninth Annual Exhibition.
• 2012 Miami International Art, SEAFAIR, Kavachnina Contemporary,Miami, FL, USA
• 2011 Sculpt Miami, Art Fair.Miami, FL USA.
• 2011 Giants in the City, Bay Front Park, Miami Down Town. Public art Project, Miami, FL USA.
• 2011 RED DOT Miami Art Fair, Kavachnina Contemporary, Miami, FL USA.
• 2011 PULSE Art Fair, Kavachnina Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA. USA
• 2011 Art TORONTO, Metro Toronto Convention Center, Projects Gallery, Toronto, Canada.
• 2011 Mask, Juried Exhibition, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, USA
• 2011 The Collection I, artdealermiami,Private Collection Art show, Miami Beach, FL, USA
• 2011 CAFE XII, Art Literature of the Cuban Diaspora,Curator:Leandro Soto, Sandgre de Cristo Art Center, CO, USA.
• 2011 Arte Americas, The Latin American Art Fair, IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Booth 107, Miami Beach, FL, USA
• 2011 Art Naples, International Art Fair," Miami Wave" Booth 312 Naples, FL, USA
• 2011 MIA ART FAIR, Miami Beach Convention Center, Booth 509, Kavachnina Contemporary and Booth 516, IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Miami, USA.
• 2011“Factory IV”, Wynwood Exhibition Center & IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 RED DOT, Miami Art Fair, Kavachnina Contemporary Art Gallery, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 “Giants in the City”, Miami International Book Fair, Public Art Project Guest, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 “Factory III”, Wynwood Exhibition Center & IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 “Factory II”, IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 “Past is History – Future is Mystery”, Freedom Tower MDC Art Gallery System. Miami FL USA
• 2010 “Suenos”, (Dreaming), Contemporary Latin American Art. Noyes Museum of Art, New Jersey, USA.
• 2010 “Factory I”, IRREVERSIBLE Art Space, Opening Group Show, Miami, FL.USA.
• 2010 FIART, International Art Fair, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic, Giants in the City, Special Project Guess.(Artist/Curator).
• 2010 GIANTS IN THE CITY, Inflatable Giants Sculptures, Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Sculpture Garden Program, Miami Beach FL, (Artist / Curator).
• 2010 ARTEAMERICAS Art Fair, Miami Beach Convention Center, Haitian Art Relief Fund, Edouard Duval-Carrie Curator.
• 2010 ARTEAMERICAS Art Fair, Miami Beach Convention Center, Special Project Collaborations “UNTITLED” Monumental Installation, Curator: Norelkys Blazekovic (Artist: Leonel Matheu, Pablo Cano, Lucinda Linderman, Edouard Duval-Carrie, Alex Heria and Alejandro Mendoza).
• 2010 ARTEAMERICAS Art Fair, Miami Beach Convention Center, Giants in the City, Special Project Guess. FL, USA.
• 2010 Art Palm Beach, WEST PALM BEACH, Art Fair, Project Collaboration, IRREVERSIBLE an International Art Project, Booth P1. West Palm Beach, Fl. USA.
• 2010 MIA ART FAIR, Miami Beach Convention Center, Project Collaboration, IRREVERSIBLE an International Art Project, Booth P 02. Miami, Fl. USA.
• 2010 MIA ART FAIR, Miami Beach Convention Center, Booth 520, Projects Gallery. Philadelphia, PA, USA.2009.
• 2010 “Caribbean Canvas” Identity in an Era of Globalization, Multitude Art Gallery, Miami, FL., USA.
• 2009 GIANTS IN THE CITY, Inflatable Giants Sculptures, BAYFRONT PARK, Miami-Dade Parks, Art Basel satellite exhibit, Miami FL, (Artist / Curator).
• 2009 SUMMER SHOW, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.USA.
• 2009 “IRREVERSIBLE 100 MOST” IRREVERSIBLE An International Art Project at CIFO Art Space, The Cisneros Fontanal Art Foundation, Exhibition Catalogue, Miami, FL.
• 2009 AQUI ESTAMOS (HERE WE ARE): Curated by F. Lennox Campello , Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.USA.
• 2009 ARTE AMERICAS 2009: Artist Selected for Monumental Sculpture Project. The Latin American Art Fair. Miami Beach Convention Center. FL, USA.
• 2009 ARTE AMERICAS 2009, The Latin American Art Fair. Booth 1103. Miami Beach Convention Center. FL, USA
• 2009 THE MAKING OF GIANTS: “Giants in the City” exhibition Catalogue. ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Wynwood Art District Miami, FL. USA.,
• 2008 BRIDGE ART FAIR, Miami 2008, Projects Gallery, Salon 114.Miami, Fl, USA.
• 2008 GIANTS IN THE CITY, Inflatable Giants Sculptures, BAYFRONT PARK, Miami-Dade Parks & Artformz, Art Basel satellite exhibit, Miami FL, (Artist / Curator)
• 2008 “NO EASY PIECES” ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Wynwood Art District, Miami, FL. USA
• 2008 “DIVERSE WORKS” ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Wynwood Art District Miami, FL. USA.,
• 2008 “The Last Picture Show” ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Miami, FL. USA.
• 2008 “Personal Jesus” Two person show Undecurrents Arts, Wynwood Art District, Miami Fl. USA.
• 2007 “Sabores y Lenguas”(Tastes & Tongues) . MAMBA, Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
• 2007 “Identity in Progress": Flight 19 ArtGallery, Tampa, FL. USA.
• 2007 “Cafe VII: The Journeys of Cuban Artist", Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Gallery at Arizona State University West, Phoenix, Arizona. USA
• 2007 “DEVIANT BEHAVIOR”, National Juried Exhibition, ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Miami, FL. USA.
• 2007 Two person show “Cuban Identity: Religion, Philosophy and the Visual Arts”, Barry University. Miami Shores, FL.USA
• 2007 “Laudable Latin’s”, Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens, Ormond Beach, FL. USA.
• 2007 Group Show, Walkway Gallery, Lincoln Center, Fort Collins, CO,USA.
• 2007 “Obras”, Contemporary Latin American Artists, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.USA.
• 2006/07 “It’s so UNFAIR”, ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Miami, FL.. USA.
• 2006 "IX Exposición de Arte Latinoamericano y del Caribe", Museum of the Americas and Broward Community College South Campus, Pembroke Pines, FL, USA.
• 2006 “CONVERGENCE !”, ARTFORMZ Alternative Gallery, Miami, FL.. USA.
• 2006 “Black and White”, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.USA.
• 2006 “Arte Sagrado 2006”, National Juried Exhibition (Curator’s Juror David Kroft and Eric Gibbons), Art Gallery at Concordia University at Austin, TX. USA.
• 2006 “Memory and Meditation” Robert A. Peck Art Gallery, Central Wyoming College, Riverton. WY. USA.
• 2006 “Rundgang”, International presentation and review portfolio projects, Staedelschule Frankfurt, Germany.
• 2005 “Sensuous Delights”, Lo Pressionism Gallery, Melbourne, FL. USA.
• 2005 “Open Show”, 201 Gallery, Laredo, TX. USA
• 2005 “Between Dimensions”, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.USA.
• 2005“Feed your senses“, INFUSION GALLERY, Los Angeles, CA.USA.
• 2004 “The Spiritual VII”, International Exhibition, PERIOD GALLERY, Nebraska, USA.
• 2004 “Of Church and State”, 3 person show, 621 GALLERY, Tallahassee, FL, USA.
• 2004 “Nuevas Tendencias #14”, Museo Hispano Latinoamericano”. Miami, FL, USA.
• 2003 “Contemporary Latin Artist” Miami-Dade Community College. North Campus. Miami, FL, USA.
• 2003 “Para los Prójimos”, Galería del Sol, Panamá City, Panamá.
• 2002 “SOHO International Art Competition”, Agora Gallery, New York, USA.
• 2001“Latin American Paintings”. Center for the Arts. Vero Beach, Florida, USA.
• 2001 Feria Iberoamericana de Arte, Caracas, Venezuela.
• 2001“Arte Latin-o-.Americano”, Dos Lunas, New México, USA.
• 2000“Tierra Adentro”, A.Cueto Gallery, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
• 1999“OLD HAVANA”, Freites-Revilla Gallery, Miami, FL. USA.
• 1998“El ARTE DE HACER”, Cuban/American art show, Ottawa, Canadá.


Giants in the City.
Founder and Artist Curator.


Alejandro Mendoza

7648 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138

(786) 333 3678


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