CARLOS ALFONZO (1950-1991)
signed and dated 'ALFONZO 87' (lower left)
oil on canvas
54 x 80 in. (137.2 x 203.2 cm.)
Painted in 1987.
Barbara Greene Fine Art, Miami.
Lang Baumgarten collection, Miami.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 25 November 1998, lot 170.
Private collection, Puerto Rico.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 28 May 2014, lot 177.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by César Trasobares and dated 22 May 2014.
Special notice
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Lot Essay

At the forefront of the Miami generation in the 1980s, Alfonzo tapped the cultural mythos of Cuban America in paintings that scour the depths of human suffering and mortality. The outstanding artist of the “Marielitos,” he came to prominence within a broadly defined diasporic generation that included Ana Mendieta, María Brito, and César Trasobares, among others. Working in an allusive, expressionist idiom grounded in his experience of exile and subsequently of the AIDS epidemic, he developed a rich symbology gleaned from differing belief systems—Catholicism, Afro-Cuban Santería, the occult Rosicrucian order—and diffused through syncretic allegories of time and place.
Alfonzo’s practice took an introspective and self-consciously spiritual turn in the late 1980s, the lyrical dramaturgy of his painting conjuring mysteries of body and soul, sacrifice and violence. The present Loaf teems with vital and apocalyptic imagery—scissors and spirals, nails and knives—that spill across the canvas in expressionist gashes of color. “I am interested in a poetic, mysterious quality even though there are specific themes I ‘unwind,’” Alfonzo explained. “I’m trying to communicate a sense of life’s mystery. At the same time I struggle to understand my own place in what I sense is a great unknown. I try through my visual language to suggest the presence of mystical forces that surround us and are part of us…I myself am trying to come to terms with human existence—with life, death, fate, and solitude” (in J. Herzberg, “Conversations with Carlos Alfonzo,” Carlos Alfonzo: Triumph of the Spirit, exh. cat., Miami Art Museum, 1997, p. 129).
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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