Under the Legacy Bronze and Woman in the Arts Programs

Body Language

On Friday, September 8th at 6:00 in the evening, the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas in Kendall will inaugurate the "Body Language" exhibition in its transitional room. This is the first solo exhibition of Venezuelan artist and sculptor Nurit Birnbaum in the United States.

Curated by Jorge Rodríguez Diez (R10)

September 8th - 22th | 2023

The collection comprises roughly twenty bronze pieces of small to medium scale, crafted over the past two decades. Nurit has always been captivated by the human figure – its malleability, movement, and curvature. She regards the human body as a flawless machine constructed of flesh and bone. However, beyond mere shape, it is the meticulous attention to gesture that has ultimately defined the character of her sculptures. Through this gesture, one can discern their emotions and moods.

As attendees will note from the inaugural event, these pieces allow for the appreciation of diverse feelings of many people, often real, who have navigated the ups and downs of life with varying degrees of success.

Crucially, these figures do not pose for the artist; she perfectly captures the essence of their character, their inner strength, fearlessly expressing their emotions naturally, and their ability to communicate through body language – ultimately celebrating life itself.

Birnbaum was born in Israel but moved to Venezuela at a young age. Initially, she studied drawing under Pedro Centeno Vallenilla, where she unearthed her fascination with the wonder of the human body, later graduating in architecture from the Central University of Venezuela. While she pursued her career in architecture, her passion for visual arts continued to burgeon. She took modeling courses at the School of Visual Arts Cristóbal Rojas with Silvestre Chacón, learned engraving techniques with María Eugenia Manrique at the Graphic Arts Center, and attended drawing classes with live models at Ina Bainova's studio.

She mastered wood carving with Harry Abend at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas (MACCSI) and subsequently formed a collective named Encrucijada with 12 artists from diverse disciplines. They showcased together in the Cultural Zone of MACCSI and were later invited to exhibit at the Houston, Texas consulate in a display titled "Venezuela in the Shadow of the Cuji." Birnbaum further displayed her works in group exhibitions at MACCSI, the Petare Folk Art Museum, J.Walter Thompson, and the Leo Blasini Gallery. Notably, Leo Blasini immediately hosted her in a successful solo exhibition titled "Bronzes."

The Acquavella Gallery in Caracas conceived her next personal exhibit: "Anthology of Gesture." Following the success of this exhibition, she decided to dedicate herself entirely to sculpture. After an enchanting journey to Tepuy de Roraima, she held her next solo exhibition at the SPATIVM gallery, called "Equilibrivm." That same year, she won the award at the Women in Art Exhibition at the Latin American Art Museum (LAAM) in Miami, Florida. She repeated the process and experience by delving into the Venezuelan Amazon, traveling its rivers to reach indigenous populations deep within the jungle. These experiences translated into her next solo exhibition, "The Shadow of the Wind," at the same gallery. She has participated in Art of the Americas in Coral Gables and the Red Dot Art Fair, both in Miami. Her pieces are housed in private collections in England, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, and the United States. She maintains her studio in Caracas and currently lives and works in Miami.

Comments

By Nicolás Acquavella
Regarding the exhibition "Ontology of Gesture" at the Acquavella Gallery, Caracas, 2000

(…)
Nurit's black women are marginalized figures, hailing from various corners of Latin America and, why not? From North America and Africa as well. One of the most remarkable aspects of her work is that, unlike other sculptural solutions, Nurit masterfully achieves true three-dimensionality; that is, her work is truly conceived to be observed from every angle. In many of her pieces, the figures and compositions sometimes appear more appealing when viewed from behind than from the front. This is the hallmark of a sculptor, the ability to generate allure throughout the entirety of a work. At no point is her dynamism, tension, creative force, or natural appeal lost.

By Francia Natera
Regarding the exhibition "The Shadow of Time" at SPATIVM Gallery, Caracas, in 2006

(…)
Moreover, this country (Venezuela) opened itself to all possible curiosities. (…) It explored the magic of an unknown world, and every corner, every river, every sky, contributed to shaping this sculptor, who seems to emerge from the very depths of Venezuelan soil. 'Plump women, casual in attire, yet exuding maturity and self-assuredness,' as Nicolás Acquavella put it.
Her contorted faces surprise us, from which smiles and pleasures have fled. 'I don't know, I'm not drawn to Venuses, to beauty queens. Ever since I saw the mulatas, the black women, I felt drawn to the aesthetic power emanating from them.'
Nurit's women have no reason to display happy faces.
It is true, as Carlos Silva says, that these women have been seen through different eyes (those of the girl who came from the desert) 'The discourse that speaks of another discourse to undermine it through exaggeration...'
They are authentic. They are called Petra, Ramona, Melinda, Josefina. They are from here and from everywhere, mothers, companions, workers, and sometimes they rest on a leaf we had never seen before, a mythological siesta. She found them deep within, in the heart of the Orinoco, our piece of the Amazon.

The women who rest on this palm leaf from the infancy of the world — the natives call it 'Cucurite,' but, contrary to what often happens, its botanical name is pure poetry, Maximiliana Regia — sturdy, massive, beautiful, lean on a single point (here we see the architect) on one foot, one hand, a child supporting the entire sculpture, providing miraculous balance. A logical symbiosis between mathematics and art.
And there she is, on the other side, humble, a true anti-diva. She doesn't need to proclaim her love for her new world because her work speaks for her. Her home is filled with leaves, drums, (...) all that she has encountered in her whirlwind journey throughout the country, the one she discovered when she arrived from the desert.

Meet Nurit Birnbaum

Born in Israel, Nurit Birnbaum relocated to Venezuela at an early age. In her formative years, she studied drawing under the tutelage of Pedro Centeno Vallenilla, where she discovered her fascination with the wonder of the human body.

She graduated as an architect from the Central University of Venezuela. While pursuing her career as an architect, she continued to nurture her passion for the arts. Birnbaum enrolled in sculpting courses at the Cristóbal Rojas School of Visual Arts, guided by Silvestre Chacón. Later, at the Center for Graphic Arts, she delved into the art of printmaking under the mentorship of Maria Eugenia Manrique. She also attended life drawing classes at Ina Bainova's workshop.

Subsequently, she ventured into the flexographic printing industry while dedicating her free time to sculpting and the study of the human form.

Her artistic journey led her to explore wood carving under the guidance of Harry Abend at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas (MACCSI). Together with 12 artists from various disciplines, they formed a collective called "Encrucijada." They showcased their works in collaboration at the Cultural Zone of MACCSI and were invited to exhibit at the Consulate of Houston, Texas, in an exhibition titled "Venezuela in the Shadow of Cuji."

Birnbaum's works were featured in group exhibitions at MACCSI, the Museum of Popular Art in Petare, J. Walter Thompson, and the Leo Blasini Gallery. Subsequently, the Leo Blasini Gallery hosted a successful solo exhibition titled "Bronzes" featuring her artworks.

Three years later, she held another solo exhibition called "Ontology of Gesture" at the Acquavella Gallery in Caracas. Following this, she made the decision to dedicate her entire time to her passion for art and sculpture.

After a fascinating journey to Mount Roraima, she produced her next exhibition at the SPATIVM Gallery, aptly titled "Equilibrivm." In the same year, she earned recognition at the "Women in Art" exhibition at the Latin American Art Museum (LAAM) in Miami, Florida.

Embarking on a captivating excursion through the Venezuelan Amazon, she journeyed along the rivers to indigenous communities. Upon her return, she presented the exhibition "The Shadow of the Wind" once again at the SPATIVM Gallery.

Nurit Birnbaum has also participated in the "Art of the Americas" event in Coral Gables and the "Red Dot Art Fair" in Miami. Her works are featured in private collections in England, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, and the United States. She maintains her studio in Caracas and is currently working in Miami.

Lost-Wax Casting

Most of Nurit Birnbaum's pieces have been crafted using the lost-wax casting method, known in French as 'cire perdue'. It is employed to create accurate and detailed reproductions of original objects. The artist first sculpts an original model of the piece in wax, referred to as the 'wax model'. Once the wax model is prepared, it is coated with a mixture of plaster or refractory clay. This mixture hardens around the wax model, forming a mold. Once set, it is heated in a kiln or exposed to fire. This causes the wax to melt and drain out of the mold, leaving a cavity in the shape of the original object. With the now hollow mold, metal is melted and poured in to fill the void left by the melted wax. After the molten metal has been poured into the mold, it is left to cool and solidify. Once the metal has cooled and set, the outer plaster or clay mold is broken away to reveal the cast metal object.

List of Pieces

Carmen, 1997
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 5/9
20 x 18 x 11 Inches

Siesta grande, 1999
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 7/9
41 x 61 x 14 Inches

Sol, 1999
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 2/9
30 x 61 x 16 Inches

Catalina, 2005
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 1/18
16 x 23 x 10

Luisa, 1999
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 3/9
15 x 22 x 19 Inches

Familia, 2000
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 6/9
16 x 40 x 13 Inches

Descanso, 1997
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 4/9
26 x 65 x 31 Inches

Juana, 1999
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 7/9
22 x 15 x 18 Inches

La Coquetona, 1998
Lost Wax Bronze
26 x 12 x 14 Inches

La Espera, 1995
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 1/9
23 x 12 x 12

La persiana, 2000
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 9/9
20 x 10 x 10 Inches

Madre y niña, 1997
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 8/9
28 x 18 x 12 Inches

Que!, 1998
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition 4/9
21 x 16 x 15 Inches

Beso, 2007
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition M
8 x 12 x 10 Inches

Rostro grande, 2009
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition A/P
30 x 16 x 10 Inches

Hellooooo, 2009
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition M
11 x 15 x 11 Inches

Torso, 2023
Model for Bronze
Edition A/P
26 x 18 x 18 Inches

Pájaro, 1996
Lost Wax Bronze
Edition M
20 x 7 x 7 Inches

Sitting Girl, 2023
Model for Bronze
Edition A/P30 x 17 x 12 Inches

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