Carlos Betancourt - "Intimate Spirit: Collages and Other Works"
Multi-disciplinary artist Carlos Betancourt was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1966) to Cuban exile parents. He moved to Miami when he was 15, embarking on a physical, emotional, and intellectual journey that has become a central creative force behind his work.
Betancourt’s artworks investigate personal and societal manifestations of memory in the context of beauty, identity, and communication, all influenced by his personal lived experiences both transformative and routine. Through a distinctive practice of overt artistic expression followed by careful personal re-examination, the artist recycles and reinterprets the past and delivers it in a new context.
As a young man, Betancourt was highly involved with the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), and worked directly with legendary preservationist Barbara Capitman and Leonard Horowitz, both responsible for the Art Deco District. This experience helped shape the artist’s fascination with architecture. One of Carlos’s first studios, called Imperfect Utopia, on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road, was in the former offices of the legendary Art Deco architect L. Murray Dixon (designer of The Betsy’s 1440 Ocean Drive building). Betancourt’s Imperfect Utopia studio, with its Avant Garde exhibits and happenings, quickly became one of the epicenters of the South Beach underground scene, spurring the region’s renaissance and leading to the now vibrant contemporary arts environment that exists today in Miami and Miami Beach. A collage prominently displayed at the center of this exhibit depicts the studio.
Betancourt’s influences include extensive travel (to Puerto Rico, Africa, Greece, and Mexico), favorite ‘things’ (rituals, parties, Morris Lapidus architecture, Puerto Rican bacalaito fritters), and a favorite candy: SweetTarts. Careful viewers will find candy wrappers visible in the exhibit’s collages. All these become new symbols in Betancourt’s intimate and highly personal collages, all part of the same democracy. Memory is activated once again, ready to tell a new story in a new way.
Intimate Collages and Other Works includes a wide range of Betancourt’s work, from never before exhibited collages to his large-scale photographic images, as well as representation of his whimsical sculptures. Crafted over a 30-year period, the intimate collages are a literal and metaphoric archive of creative thoughts and life experiences that are ultimately woven into many of his larger iconic works. It’s his story — but it feels strangely like our own. While Betancourt’s works defy categorization, they all have two things in common: a joyful energy and a tapestry of memories.
Betancourt’s artwork has been included in prominent art fairs and exhibited internationally. His work is part of the permanent collection of several institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Palm Springs Art Museum, New Orleans Art Museum, NSU Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, and the Bass Museum of Art.