Henry Bermudez in Philadelphia


About the Exhibition

Woodmere will present an exhibition of the work of Philadelphia-based, Venezuela-born artist Henry Bermudez. The exhibition will be the most extensive exploration to date of Bermudez’s art, with a checklist that encompasses approximately 70 works, chronicling the artist’s experience since arriving in Philadelphia as an immigrant and seeker of political asylum in 2003.

As a young artist in Venezuela, Bermudez built a successful international career. While still in his thirties, he represented Venezuela at the XVII Venice Biennale (1986). In 2003, however, Bermudez learned while traveling in the United States that the political regime in Venezuela had determined that his art expressed ideas that threatened authoritarian cultural objectives. With a friend in Philadelphia who was able to give him temporary shelter, he began his journey as an immigrant, coming to terms with a dramatic twist of fate and the need to build a new life and career in the US. In his 20 years in Philadelphia, Bermudez’s work has continuously evolved. Connections to the mythological subjects and visual strategies of his Venezuela-based work remain, but his art today also reflects the rupture of displacement and the culture of Philadelphia.

Although he began his career as a painter, Bermudez now experiments across a variety of media. He incorporates painting with cut paper in large-scale works that break away from the flat surfaces of walls with a density of intertwined, three-dimensional forms, rainbow-like color, patterning, and sparkling textures. While his compendium of aesthetics continues to evoke ancient Latin American mythologies and a hybrid of symbols and religious lore from pre-Hispanic, Judeo-Christian, and Afro-Caribbean influences, Bermudez also grapples with US cultural norms and patriotism and the bewilderment that comes from a bifurcated personal journey.

The exhibition will be co-curated by Jorge Luis Gutierrez and William R. Valerio. Gutierrez is a Venezuelan-born American curator and museum strategist. He is the founding director of the Miami Dade College Art Gallery System, MDC Museum of Art & Design, in Miami, FL and the founding director of the Museum of Visual Arts Alejandro Otero in Venezuela, establishing it as a respected institution in the Latin American art circuit. He has curated numerous major exhibitions and projects on Caribbean and Latin American contemporary art in the Americas. Gutierrez holds a BA in Architecture and an MA in Visual Arts Management from New York University.