Artbeat

"Continental Drift: Installations by Joan Jonas, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Juan Muñoz, and Yinka Shonibare," now at the Norton Museum of Art, is cleverly named for the geological phenomenon that separated the supercontinent over millions of years, leaving us with seven continents and thousands of islands that look like puzzle pieces. The installation by four artists is imbued with the flavor of the new global economy. Everything is life-sized, and the pieces range from excellent to overwrought. Shonibare seems to challenge the notion of national identity with a little perception-versus-reality sleight of hand. Reimagining a famous Gainsborough portrait, in Mr. and Mrs. Adams Without Their Heads, Shonibare has his British colonials -- his headless colonials -- wearing ankara, a fabric associated with African garb that's actually of Dutch descent. Jonas gets even trickier. She's an innovator of performance and video art, but it's difficult to navigate through her installation. Jonas' mixed-media piece Lines in the Sand is dedicated to The Odyssey; the piece employs two videos, photos of Egyptian pyramids, and props, suggesting that the tale could be told anywhere. The installations on the whole, though, are an extraordinary workout for the senses, combining color, sound, and intellect. The Kabokovs' Seven Characters appears in a drab psychiatric ward, dimly lit with bare light bulbs and peeks into the minds of its occupants through narratives pasted on the walls. (Through January 2 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196, www.norton.org.) -- Megan Kenny

NOW ON DISPLAY

"The Inspired Moustache: An Exhibition of Diverse Expressions of Salvador Dal through Books and Memorabilia from the Collection of Rik Pavlescak" -- This quirky excursion through Dalwood, now at the Broward County Main Library, features 116 items drawn from the "much larger and comprehensive collection" of Pavlescak, who lives in West Palm Beach and works as a private human services consultant and as grants and education manager for the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County. Bienes Center librarian James A. Findlay, who helped coordinate the show, sums it up this way: "As is so often the case, it begins with a casual acquisition, leads to more detailed investigation and research, and ends with a compulsion to acquire as much material as possible..." For those who have always dismissed Dal as a shameless huckster/artistic whore, this orgy of Dalana will only confirm their worst suspicions and then some. For those of us who have always seen Dal for who and what he was and adore him in spite of or even because of it, this weird little show is great fun. (Through January 15 at the Bienes Center for the Literary Arts, Sixth Floor, Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-357-8692.)

"Optical Perceptions: Serigraphs by Victor Vasarely" -- The acknowledged leader of the op-art movement, Vasarely felt that any observer should be able to "get" his art, filled with precise shapes and oscillating colors leaping from the plane, regardless of educational background or experience. "Art for all" was the Hungarian-born French artist's motto. But, as with his piece Meta VY 48 G, sometimes you can't stop thinking to yourself that it looks like a couple of soccer balls trimmed in gold. Vasarely wanted the observer to see not soccer balls but shapes and forms with precisely rendered lines and complementary colors that vibrate in the brain, causing the octagons to advance and recede into space. Vasarely believed that everything in the world has an underlying geometry, which is what he sees and re-creates. It's not supposed to look like anything, though Vasarely's understanding of what colors do when placed side by side is astounding. The fascinating collection of serigraphs is mostly in color, and most of the works are titled Untitled, presumably to prevent reading too much into a name. Two works resemble sunrises -- the horizon line is straight despite the curved shapes that make up the terrain in the foreground. The purples and reds vibrate -- warm colors tend to advance into space. In the end, you have to stop looking for the soccer ball. It's just form and dimension and color, so just enjoy it. (Through December 17 at the Art School, 801 W. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton, 561-392-2503.)

 
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