Miami Art Week 2018: Manifestations of Childhood Nightmares

Sexual assault, school shootings and other works that tap into fear, terror and unease

There’s no fuel quite like fear—be it a motivator, an instigator of nightmares or a cause to express oneself boldly (or even quietly). Between societal unrest and the ever-changing fears of the youth, it was evident that much work seen during Miami Art Week drew inspiration from the terror felt by and for children today, or memories of horror from our own childhood applied to this generation. Of our five selections, some represent ideas and ideologies, while others represent acts and actions. A glimpse at each certainly unsettles—and there’s value in that.

by David Graver

Paul Rousso’s “Composition with Wonder Woman” (2018)

From Smith Davidson Gallery at Art Miami, Paul Rousso‘s mixed media on hand-sculpted styrene work manages to capture so much: superhero ambitions, cash, commercialism and candy. Rousso crumples all of these paper and plastic-based ideas into one bundle. It’s disposed of youth and broken dreams. And, there’s so much uncertainty at play for the future here.

by David Graver

WhisBe’s “Back to School shopping/adult vests” (2018)

As direct as possible, WhisBe’s “Back to School shopping/adult vests” (2018) and “Safety Defense Box” (2018) tackle child violence. The former mixed media piece appears to be a bulletproof vest for children, the latter (visible as the lead image here) positions hand guns inside of lunchboxes. Seen at Scope Miami Beach, in the Castle FitzJohns Gallery installation, this dark satire is immensely effective in an age of regular school shootings.

by David Graver

Ann Lewis “One in Five of Us” (2016)

As part of Pulse Art Fair‘s Pulse Projects, Ann Lewis’ “One in Five of Us” (2016) installation incorporates women’s and girls’ underwear that’s been soiled with beer and blood, dirt and tears. Lewis suspends the garments with wood, metal and twine, directly in one’s line of sight. This bleak image works as a reminder that 20% of American women are raped in their lifetime.

by David Graver

Mathieu Malouf’s Silkscreens (2018)

Adding to the ongoing conversation around gender, artist Mathieu Malouf weighs in with silkscreen works seen at House of Gaga‘s booth during Art Basel. These chromed canvas pieces, with names like “PUPI” (2018) and “CACA” (2018), feature toys with colored hair and gender symbols. The question Malouf begs is society’s impact on gender stereotyping and the application of identifiers.

by David Graver

Hans Henrik Fischer “Take a Peek” (2018)

Another highlight from Scope, Hans Henrik Fischer’s “Take a Peek” (2018) acrylic paint on canvas work addresses the old fear of fictional monsters. Fischer’s figuration and framing positions a young girl front and center with two manifestations of beastial fear directly on her. It was seen at   Galleri Oxholm‘s booth.