Along the Gulfshore


Naples Artist Juan Diaz to Show at Art Basel

We spoke with Diaz about his upcoming exhibit and performance at the Miami Beach art fair.

This weekend (Dec. 1-4) marks the 15th annual Art Basel in Miami Beach, a renowned showcase of established and emerging contemporary artists. Naples-based Juan Diaz, 35, has landed a coveted spot. 

This will be Diaz's first time exhibiting at Art Basel, and his show, The LIGHT Performance Art Series Exhibition, taking place on Saturday, will be the first by a visual artist in the venue of The Fillmore Miami Beach.

From 4-10 p.m., Diaz will exhibit 17 freestanding works—all panels from his previous light performances (for examples of those performances, look here)—in the center of the room, a backstage space at The Fillmore.

And, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., Diaz will take the stage and conduct a light performance live. During that time, Diaz will be the center of what he sees as a collaboration with other artists—videographer, DJ, installation artist—as he paints from within boxed back-lit canvas panels to music and a light show.Diaz has wowed audiences with this colorful medium several times before, exposing layers to the creative process as onlookers watch the piece unfold in a relatively short amount of time. But know that each performance is wildly different; Diaz does not have a set plan beforehand of what he is going to create. He channels his emotional state at that moment into an expression for all to see.

Essentially, his exhibit phase at Basel will be traditional in format–guests walk in, experience the paintings as finished products, see behind-the-scenes videos of their creation playing in the background. The next phase, the performance, will be the reverse—with guests watching the piece from scratch. 

We Are Living a Circus, Let's Go Back to the Beginning! 2016 acrylic on muslin; to see the creation in progress, view the video below.

The show will also be the first many fans of Diaz will have seen of him in a while—almost a couple years. You may have been among those wondering—why so quiet?

"I think in the last few years life taught me some great moments, and I needed quiet and time to digest them," Diaz says. "And have a better understanding of how I perceive the world."

He honored his prior commitments but started saying no to invitations and stopped seeking them out. After some time, he began to feel recharged and ready. He started reaching back out to the venues he had worked with before and who had expressed interest in showing his work, he says, only to find they booked their calendars months and months in advance. But as an artist who lives and creates in the moment, Diaz didn't want to express now and share later. 

So when the opportunity to present at Art Basel presented itself, he jumped at the chance.

"It really helped me to find peace, to find understanding and find balance," Diaz says of the introspective time off. "I felt ready. All of my thoughts are organized, I know how I see the world at my age, in this moment in my life, and I'm ready to share how I do."

We're looking forward to seeing it come through in his work.

 

We Are Living A Circus, Let's Go Back To The Beginning from Juan Diaz on Vimeo.

 

If you're among the many Southwest Floridians flocking to our neighboring shores for Art Basel, take note:

Juan Diaz

The Gleason Room, The Fillmore Miami Beach

1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

Saturday, Dec. 3

Exhibition 4-10 p.m. (free); performance 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ($15 cover)