Carlos Alfonso, Untitled, 1987, ink, tempra, and gouache on paper, 48” x 31 ½”, signed: Alfonso 87.

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Carlos Alfonzo, Untitled, 1987, Paradiso announcement card image designed and painted by the artist, ink on card, 6”  x  4”, Private Collection

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Carlos Alfonzo, Hand with Mamey (front and back), 1985, glazed ceramic, 15” x 6” x 5”

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Carlos Alfonso, Untitled, 1987, ink, tempra, and gouache on paper, 48” x 31 ½”, signed: Alfonso 87.

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Born in Havana, Cuba, Carlos Alfonzo (1950-1991) began his education by attending the Academia de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, studying painting, print making, and sculpture. As a student he encountered Afro-Cuban religious symbols of various sects and began using those in his work. Reminiscent of voodoo culture, each culture was differentiated through sect-specific iconography. Although raised as a Catholic, Alfonzo’s work often blended pagan and Christian imagery to show their overlap and connection to male power, passion, and sin. After graduation, he attended the University of Havana to further study art history.

In 1980, Alfonzo was deemed undesirable as a gay man and exiled from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift. Upon his arrival in the US, Alfonzo settled in Miami. Leaving Cuba allowed him to explore his sexuality both in his life and artwork, and he was quickly embraced artistically in the United States. Alfonzo became known for his vibrant neo-Impressionistic style, as Victor Barrenechea wrote, “He filled canvas after canvas with wildly energetic and anxiously expressive renderings of raw emotion, despair, and alienation.”

Alfonzo first exhibited at Hal Bromm in 1987 with Paradiso, a solo show featuring paintings, ceramics and works on paper. He lived and worked in Miami until his untimely death from AIDS-related complications in 1991. That year Alfonzo’s work was included in the 1991 Whitney Biennial. A 1998 exhibition, Triumph of the Spirit: Carlos Alfonzo, A Survey, 1975 –1991 opened at the Miami Art Museum and then traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Alfonzo’s work is included in both collections. His commissioned mural, Ceremony of the Tropics, 1984-86 is on permanent view at Miami’s Santa Clara Metrorail Station. The installation, created with hand-painted ceramic tiles, was a project of Miami’s Art in Public Places program, curated by Cesar Trasobares.

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Press and Other Exhibitions