To Be as a Cloud: Recent Acquisitions

April 25 through July 28, 2024


NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale presents To Be as a Cloud, featuring recent gifts from prominent Miami collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz, focusing on nine major foundational paintings from the early 1990s by the Cuban-born, Miami-based artist José  Bedia. The de la Cruzes identified NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale as the permanent home of these cherished paintings. Bedia’s work draws both Western and non-Western sources, spiritualism, and personal histories; which served as the inspiration for this exhibition of recent acquisitions to the Museum’s permanent collection. A collaborative work by Jorge Pardo and Jason Rhoades, another gift from the de la Cruzes, will also be on view.

The de la Cruzes have donated a total of 63 works to NSU Art Museum between 2019 and 2023.

To Be as a Cloud is presented in memory of Rosa de la Cruz, NSU Art Museum’s Director and Chief Curator, Bonnie Clearwater, notes “We are pleased to present these paintings by Jose Bedia donated to the Museum by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. Not only did these paintings hold a place of pride in their home for over 30 years, the couple selected Bedia as the artist to engrave their final resting place.” Clearwater adds, “Bedia was one of the artists over whom Rosa, Carlos and I forged our long friendship. They generously loaned the Ogun series of paintings to the inaugural exhibition I organized at MOCA North Miami in 1996 and more recently to a solo exhibition of the artist at NSU Art Museum. Bedia’s work is the cornerstone of NSU Art Museum’s Cuban art collection, founded in 1993.” Clearwater remarks, “I had long made my wishes known about adding these key paintings to the Museum’s collection and was delighted when I received the notification of the gift several months ago with a message ‘we know you know what to do with these.’ We are deeply grateful to Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz for this generous gift and it is a great honor to share these works with the public.”

Jose Bedia, one of the most prominent artists of Cuba’s storied ‘80s Generation, has called Miami home since 1993. Afro-Cuban traditions remain a focal point of his practice. As an initiated practitioner of the diasporic African religion, Regla de Congo, Bedia’s works are informed by his spiritual belief system.

Bedia conveys his narrative with a variety of techniques: he draws figures in flat silhouettes that evoke traditions as varied as prehistoric cave paintings and modern-day cartoons; figures are studded with white dots, which bring to mind the ancient form of storytelling that uses the constellations to delineate mythic characters in the night sky; and he introduces text both through the title and the words he inscribed on the painting.

Jared McGriff To Be as a Cloud 2021 Oil on canvas 64 x 74 in Spinello Projects Hres (1)

The title of the exhibition references artist Jared McGriff’s painting To Be as a Cloud, 2021, also featured in the exhibition. The title references the ephemeral condition of life and becoming one with the universe.

Works on display include:

  • José Bedia (b. 1959, Havana, Cuba; lives and works in Miami, FL). Untitled (Ogun Series), 1992, 8 large-scale Ink, conte on amate paper paintings. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; Courtesy of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz – Jose Bedia’s Ogun series exemplifies the artist’s engagement with the interconnected histories of Cuba and Africa. Within these eight paintings on amate paper (a type of bark paper crafted in Mexico with Paleo-Indian roots), the artist portrays majestic, silhouetted figures, in which man and machine come together to create supernatural visions of titanic force.
  • Dawoud Bey (b. 1953, Queens, New York, NY; lives and works in Chicago, Illinois). Trees and Barn, 2019. Gelatin silver print. NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; museum purchase – This photograph is part of his In This Here Place project, consisting of photos Bey took in Louisiana to document former slave cabins on preserved antebellum plantations.