Treating his artworks as self-portraits, Mexican contemporary artist Abraham Cruzvillegas repurposes discarded materials to build assemblages and sculptural installations that explore the unstable and shifting constituents of identity.Read More
At the basis of Abraham Cruzvillegas' practice lies autoconstrucción or 'self-building', a concept that derives from his upbringing in Colonia Ajusco. The neighbourhood, which only began to be occupied in the 1960s, was largely built by members of the community through collective effort and improvisation. Inspired by a spirit of recycling and constant rebuilding, Cruzvillegas often employs inexpensive, found, or local materials and leaves many of his works unfinished. As he told Art21 in 2016, this approach is analogous to his construction of his identity.
Among Cruzvillegas' investigations into culture and identity is Blind Self Portrait (2008). The wall installation consists of hundreds of paper scraps, including leaflets, newspapers, postcards, flyers, tickets, and receipts, that he painted in red and pinned to a wall face down. By obscuring the printed sides from view, Cruzvillegas deliberately confused their content and identity in a reference to exclusion and marginalisation in public space. Blind Self Portrait has been reiterated in different colours, such as green in 2013 and white in 2016.
Unpredictability enters Abraham Cruzvillegas' works such as Empty Lot: the inaugural Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London, in 2015. The monumental installation consisted of scaffolding built with materials from various London construction sites and 240 triangular flower beds. The soil mixed samplings from 36 sites across the city. No seeds were planted, except for those that may have already been in the earth, leaving the future of the flower beds to chance.
Nature and environmental concerns are recurring themes in Cruzvillegas' works. The Water Trilogy exhibitions—presented at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Maison Hermès, Tokyo; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam—for example, revolved around sculptures and installations that examine water issues in urban cities. Agua Dulce (2020) at The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, by contrast, offered a plant sanctuary to the public. The large-scale installation was made of numerous plant species and accompanied by performances mimicking birds.
Abraham Cruzvillegas has presented his works at international exhibitions including the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015), 12th Havana Biennial (2015), Gwangju Biennale (2012), and the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011).
La Señora de Las Nueces, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris (2021); Unique performance, LA MAISON DE RENDEZ-VOUS, Brussels (2020); Hi, How Are You, Gonzo?, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2019); Esculturas pendientes (Pending Sculptures), kurimanzutto, Mexico City (2019); Autorreconstrucción: Social Tissue, Kunsthaus Zürich (2018); Autoconstrucción, Museo Jumex, Mexico City, and Museo Amparo, Puebla (2014); The Autoconstrucción Suites, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013).
Mappa mundi—Cartographies contemporaines, Boghossian Foundation, Villa Empain, Brussels (2020); Al filo de la navaja, Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2020); Ice and fire: a benefit exhibition in three parts, The Kitchen, New York (2020); Biennale d'Architecture d'Orléans, Frac Centre-Val de Loire, Orléans, France (2019); La rue, où le monde se crée, La Panacée, Montpellier Contemporain, France (2019); Artaud 1936, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2018); Repetition and Difference, The Jewish Museum, New York (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021