Inspired by the annual migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, Carlos Amorales conceived of Black Cloud as a “plague” of moths that swarm through museum spaces. 25,000 black paper moths and butterflies of 30 different species seem to hover in mid-air, a surreal yet sublime gathering of insects delicately poised in sculptural formations.

The artist invented this idea while visiting his grandmother. He has described it as his way of saying goodbye to her—an intensely personal origin for an artwork that inspires a universal sense of wonder in each of us. Nevertheless, the title implies an underlying sense of foreboding. These thousands of uncanny insects envelop us in an experience fluctuating between beauty and awe, the fanciful and the macabre, calm and calamity. Black Cloud exemplifies what art critics have called Amorales’ “gothic sensibility,” while also bringing the raw beauty of untamed nature into the museum.

Carlos Amorales is one of the most celebrated Mexican artists working today. He was chosen to represent Mexico at the 2017 Venice Biennial, one of the highest international honors for an artist. He works in a wide variety of media, including video, painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance.

Carlos Amorales was born in 1970 in Mexico City. From 1992 to 1995, he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and in 1996 continued his studies at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunstenin, both in Amsterdam. He currently maintains studios in Mexico City and Amsterdam. His work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Cisneros Foundation Collection, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Margulies Collection, Miami; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; La Colección Jumex, Mexico City; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris, among others.