DEMI | Tabula Rasa

May 4 - June 29, 2024

Aliona Ortega Fine Art is pleased to present “DEMI | Tabula Rasa”, a solo exhibition of paintings by Cuban-born, American painter Demi.  Born in Camaguey, Cuba in 1955, Demi is a renowned Cuban-born American artist. She lives and works in Miami. The exhibition is on view from May 4 until June 29, 2024.

Demi’s primary subject matter is children. She depicts a vibrant and intimate universe centered around children, yet her vision is neither sugar-coated nor innocent. Demi paints luminous and powerful children whose lives have been exposed to the vagaries of the adult world. She paints the big world through the eyes of small children. Her children are survivors.

The title of the show, “Tabula Rasa”, translates from Latin as “a clean slate”. It is the idea that children are born pristine in their original state and are free of any built-in information. All their knowledge comes from later perceptions, sensory experiences, and life events. So what happens when small children suffer through tragic events? And how deeply do those events impact their lives forever

Demi has firsthand knowledge of the plight of children whose fates are forever altered by devastating events. Her father was executed in Castro’s Cuba when Demi was still a small child. Demi had to live in exile, eventually settling in Miami, where she later attended Miami-Dade College. The artist signs as “DEMI”, as a sobriquet that suggests her life was cut in half by exile, and emphasizes individuality and ambiguity.

The exhibition is comprised of the artist’s recent works, some of which were painted during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2022), and represent a shift in the artist’s oeuvre. According to the artist, the pandemic’s lockdown restrictions induced a strong desire in the artist to go beyond the constraints of stretched canvas, and Demi decided to paint on large-scale unstretched linen creating murals like tapestries. Two of the three murals painted during the lockdown, “Light versus Darkness” and “The Big Storm”, have been exhibited at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington D.C., as part of the prestigious Organization of American States (OAS) program. “The Big Storm” is included in the Museum’s permanent collection. The third mural, “The Fall”, is exhibited for the first time in this exhibition.

For me, this exhibition “Tabula Rasa” has a lot of personal meaning, and is also a new beginning. In 2022, my two sisters died one from COVID, and the other from cancer. I felt completely destroyed as a person and as an artist.  My two sisters represented for me my muses. They never grew old. In my mind they were part of a terrible event in my life as a child. As I have said before, my paintings blossom from the inner depths of my childhood memories. My two sisters were representatives of my childhood on this earth. When they died, I stopped painting… except for finishing up the large murals. With this exhibition, I have a new beginning.” – Demi