Critics’ Picks

  • Hiejin Yoo, I Am a Lone Reed, 2019, Flashe paint and oil on canvas, 46 x 42".

    Hiejin Yoo

    Fredric Snitzer Gallery
    1540 NE Miami Court
    May 10–June 22

    Falling in love, it’s said, slows time and clouds one’s better judgment. Details get hazy, except for the right ones—those become rose-colored. In Hiejin Yoo’s “The Recovery of Openness, Intimacy and Trust,” sunsets, lovers, and smooth-haired pets alike are imbued with the myopia of real devotion. The oil paintings look cropped, with some details removed to venerate other details. In Balmy As Spring Air, 2019, two long-armed torsos rub against each other, sharing a chair. In Any Ideas?, 2019, an orange-hued figure holds their own hand—perhaps for comfort. Yoo’s subjects are often postcard clichés—a fairy-tale house, a couple’s walk at sunset, a pet curled up on a chair—but her colors are expansive, her textures tender and meticulous. When she zooms in close and off-kilter, something dreamlike, not cloying, emerges: In You Came to My Dream Last Night, 2019, swaths of wheat overlay a mass of a hill, the silhouette of a head, and what might be a fence.

    Yoo has said her images act as journal entries. Her strongest works are intimate but still private: In My Playground, 2019, plants and curving walkways bar the entirety of the image from view. The subjects in No Pictures Please and Please No Pictures, both 2018, hide their faces with their hands. In I Am a Lone Reed, 2019, a solitary figure walks with their hand in the pocket of their night-black trousers. The titular reeds are as wispy as snow. We don’t see this person's face—perhaps it is Yoo—but we can imagine their shadow.

  • Glexis Novoa, Cankama Sutta (detail), 2019, graphite wall drawing, 3 1/2" x 105'. Photo: Liliana Mora

    Glexis Novoa

    Cuban Legacy Gallery at MDC
    600 Biscayne Boulevard Freedom Tower
    March 14–September 29

    At once a timeline, an autobiography, and a meditation, Glexis Novoa’s exhibition is encircled by a site-specific drawing of a horizon line along the gallery walls, punctuated by the artist’s small, meticulously rendered images of cultural and political landmarks. The scenes involve people, flags, and banners emblazoned with “Fidel,” “Socialismo,” and “Yankees Go Home,” as well as sketches of Cold War missiles and Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza. The work unfolds through space and time. As visitors walk the perimeter, tracing the drawing from beginning to end, they grasp in an embodied manner the artist’s migration history, one of political exile—from Cuba to Mexico to Miami—and of spiritual growth, concluding with pictures of sacred Buddhist temples.

    In the center of the gallery, similar drawings rendered on concrete slabs sit atop three pedestals that recall abstract modernist sculptures. Whereas Novoa's large-scale intervention references specific histories, these images juxtapose incongruent architectures, as if to create a sci-fi skyline. But the surrounding horizon is not free of such imaginative leaps: Between the handwritten markers for 1994, with its depiction of a mountain in Monterrey, Mexico, and 1995, with its illustration of Miami’s Freedom Tower (the building in which Cuban refugees were historically processed and that now houses this gallery), Novoa depicts a deep chasm that gives way to an uninterrupted line on the north wall. On the Miami side of the horizon, he penciled in “2005” and “2007,” but these years stand alone, unpaired with any image beyond the horizontal graphite marks evoking geographic layers. Given how the artist’s past resonates with this specific site of immigration history, one might be prompted to fill such absences with reflections on the other motivations and consequences of migration—both spiritual and political—that persist today.