Dario Posada and Jean Marc Calvet are in a two man show, “Double Shot” at the Colour Senses Project in Allapattah, Miami. These two men are spiritual brothers. One was born in Colombia, the other in France but they met in Miami. They have both lived through unbelievable challenges but found painting as a lifeline. Their art is at opposite ends of the spectrum, one classical portraiture, the other outsider, yet they understand each other perfectly.
Dario Posada grew up in Medellín, Colombia. Not the fabulous current day location that is called “City of the Eternal Spring,” with great weather, epicurean restaurants, fantastic metro and cable car systems, and abundant parks. He was there in the days when it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, filled with violence caused by Pablo Escobar’s drug-cartel fueled urban wars. This is where Posada experienced the traumatizing execution of a friend.
Posada was fortunate enough to have found art as a child and drew his first mural at 12 years of age. He took refuge in his art and school studies to escape from the impoverished childhood neighborhood, which eventually led him to the University of Colombia where he graduated with a Master’s in fine arts. He finally left his home country to travel the world, receiving awards and recognition for his art. He continued working abroad, leveraging his art for commercial and non-profit organizations, until he finally arrived in Miami in 2007.
Posada’s work is classical portraiture with a very healthy dose of satire and genuine humor. He reproduces formal paintings and inserts himself and other personalities such as Fidel Castro, Queen Elizabeth II, the Pope, Mickey Mouse and Snow White. He expertly disassembles other artists’ work and makes them blatantly his own. He has riffed on Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon, Grant Wood and Rembrandt amongst others. The paintings are instantly recognizable but are totally owned by the Posada vibe. In one fell swoop he cleverly mocks the artworld, religion, politics, the famous and infamous.
A few years earlier, on the other side of the world, Jean Marc Calvet grew up in Nice, France, home of the romantic and glamorous French Rivera, the Côte d’Azur. Here he managed to find self-destructive experiences from an early age. Five years in the French Foreign Legion as a sniper did nothing to alleviate the problems and left him with traumatic memories. He ended up in Miami and became embroiled with criminal elements and was forced to flee to Costa Rica, but his troubles continued, until he found himself at the lowest point of his life and decided to end it all.
Miraculously, instead of finding death, he accidentally plunged his arm into a left-over vat of commercial house paint. As he desperately tried to wipe off the paint from his hand on the nearby wall, he recognized the visual manifestation of his internalized pain. This was his first attempt at art, which continued with crude, brute, expressions of his inner turmoil exploding on any surface, with any materials that would leave a trace.
Art, which had never been a part of his life, suddenly filled every spare hour he had. Totally self-taught, perhaps more self-explored, he absorbed the bright color palettes and vibrant culture of Central America into his work, which with his natural positivity spilled onto his canvases, taming the violence that vomited from his inner demons. He found a new identity and a new life. He became an artist, traveling around the world including Miami and New York, finding recognition wherever he went.
However, in 2018 he had to leave Nicaragua, where he had been living, to shield his daughters from the violence that was erupting in the country, and he finally returned to France. He found becoming reacquainted with his homeland profoundly affected his work, deeply feeling the impact of the history and culture with which he had grown up.
Today his art is a complex mix of the exuberance of Central America and the maturity of France giving depth and meaning to his turbulent experiences of his youth. The eyes of his targets as a sniper, the demons that haunted him, and the violence that he lived through, are still there, but now there is even more profundity to his work.
Both men have benefitted from the Miami spirit, the wealth of the broad range of Latino cultures nurtured in the determination and opportunity that is the United States. The strength of the art scene in the city is inspirational and supportive. It is here in Miami at the Colour Senses Project that Calvet and Posada have come together again to show that despite the obvious differences in their styles, both have found salvation from the monsters in their past lives. Rather than wreaking havoc on their current lives, their demons are now released and allowed to live on canvas for others to experience in the safety of a gallery. G&S