Ralph Pucci Debuts Exuberant Murals by Rebecca Moses During Art Basel Miami Beach
In ‘Bubblegum, Lipstick, and Hope,’ the New York–based artist infuses bold portraits of determination and renewal with unexpected whimsy
Just in time for the festivities surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach, Ralph Pucci’s Wynwood outpost is sporting a stylish new look. Artist and fashion designer Rebecca Moses has sheathed the popular gallery in a series of colorful murals that perfectly illustrate the power of portraiture. “I wanted these women to be strong, proud, and have ownership of who they were,” Moses tells Galerie. “They’re not quite intimidating; they’re inviting.”
The idea started during the early days of the pandemic, when New York–based Moses grew restless with her daily routine of painting and illustrating. “After a while, sketching didn’t seem constructive,” she recalls. “I could hear sirens all day and wanted to do something more.” So she put out a call on her Instagram page seeking inspiration for a series of portraits. “I thought maybe by connecting and sharing it could create a support system,” she explains. In no time, her DMs were brimming with extraordinary stories of bravery and courage from women around the world, everyone from moms of children with special needs to single, high-powered executives. “It really showed me that people just have a need to connect.”
The project ultimately birthed “Thank You Mount Sinai Nurses,” an exhibition of 46 portraits of the titular medical workers that went on view at the New York hospital’s Guggenheim Pavilion last winter. Galvanized by how much hope the works inspired, Moses then had the idea to dive into an empowering yet fictional world of her own creation. “One day I woke up and said I’ve got to let go of reality,” she remembers. “I started doing lots of illustrations of how I could see women in this happy place, where there was hope and celebration, where they could put on their best clothes and eat their favorite foods.”
Such was the genesis for “Bubblegum, Lipstick, and Hope,” the new Miami exhibition with gallery owner Ralph Pucci, who has represented Moses since 2015. (The artist is also on Nilufar’s roster in Italy, where she lived for 20 years.) “The show started with me falling down the rabbit hole with these paint brushes,” she laughs. Comprised of ten murals on the the building façade and seven canvases on view inside, the exhibition opens on December 2, just in time to catch out-of-towners visiting during Art Basel Miami Beach. Moses will also be offering an array of over 100 smaller (9-by-12 inch) unframed portraits, available at more accessible price points, which can be carried out of the gallery the day they are purchased.
“When I met with Ralph and showed him what I was doing, he felt the works were just what we need right now,” says Moses. “We wanted them to be like queens—queens of optimism and hope.” Indeed, the women in the exuberant murals are decked in fashionable clothes with glamorous accessories, but they are also imbued with a carefree elegance. One woman, for instance, is dripping in pearls while clutching a single strawberry—a quiet, everyday moment that has taken on new meaning after the events of the last two years. “There’s a lot of irony with the women dressed in haute couture and eating comfort foods like popcorn and cotton candy,” she reflects. “It shows that I can be over the top and have my hot dog, too. The juxtaposition of the two things was kind of funny, and I love the realness of it.”
“There’s a lot of irony with the women dressed in haute couture and eating comfort foods like popcorn and cotton candy. It shows that I can be over the top and have my hot dog, too”rebecca moses
The gallery owner certainly agrees that the cheerful, dignified portraits are exactly what the art world needs now. “The exhibition SHOUTS that we have survived and will thrive,” said Pucci. “We are moving forward with optimism.”
“Bubblegum, Lipstick, and Hope” opens December 2, 2021, at Ralph Pucci; 343 NW 25th St., Miami, Florida.