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b. 1970, Cuba

Alexandre Arrechea Biography

Cuban-born artist Alexandre Arrechea's broad, multimedia practice examines social conditions. He explores themes relating to socio-economic realities, power, secrecy, social control, and surveillance in public and domestic spaces. From large public sculptures to paintings, drawings, video, interactive installations, and arrangements of found objects, the artist has exhibited work in a variety of formats in exhibitions that include biennials in Havana, Johannesburg, São Paulo, Shanghai, Taipei, Moscow, Thessaloniki, Gwangju, and Venice. His art features in the collections of major institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Caja de Burgos; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana.

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Graduating from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana in 1994, Arrechea became a founding member of the collective Los Carpinteros (1994–2003), where his main interest was in blurring the lines between sculpture, design, and architecture. The collective consisted of three individuals who were ideologically opposed to elevating individual genius. They created humorous dysfunctional hybrids such as finely crafted wooden boxes in the shape of grenades. Like the art of the Dadaists in the 1920s, these boxes denied the grenade its original function, transforming it into something nonsensical.

After splitting with Los Carpinteros to pursue a solo career in 2003, Arrechea expanded his practice to include new forms, developing a more diverse type of socially engaged conceptual art. From early on, his solo work—varying in format, style, and specific concepts—principally explored notions of control, disempowerment, secrecy, privacy, and surveillance, as found in the public and private spaces of both Cuba and the United States.

A defining work in Arrechea's career, The Garden of Mistrust (2003–2005), speaks of surveillance and control. Consisting of a whitewashed aluminium tree with branches bearing, in total, 22 security cameras that constantly watch the viewer and transmit their image online, the installation openly intrudes upon the viewer's privacy to explore society's passive submission to control. The concept of viewer surveillance and the subsequent acceptance of disempowerment remains a running motif in the artist's artwork.

Large-scale installations examining the nature of social control and suggesting vigilance have become a mainstay of the artist's career. Placed along a 20-block stretch of the Park Avenue Malls, Arrechea's series of large public works, 'No Limits' (2013, New York), challenged New Yorkers' perceptions of familiar structures. Ten large sculptures depict iconic skyscrapers such as the Chrysler or Empire State Buildings, stretched to look like snakes or fire hoses and bent or wound into new forms.

While working on large-scale sculpture, installation, and video projections Arrechea also continues to explore social concerns through smaller painted artworks. Since 2015 the artist has been painting mask-like oval shapes on canvases, such as Máscara (2015) and the works of the 'Painting and Conflict' series (2019), which dissect and link the architecture of different areas (and socio-economic realities), exploring notions of conflict through the contrast of shapes, textures and colours drawn from different facades of a city. With its anthropomorphic qualities, the mask motif gives a living face to anonymous urban landscapes. This engagement with social disquiet and conflicts characterises the artist's practice in all forms.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019

Alexandre Arrechea Featured Artworks

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Painting and conflict, 4 by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaPainting and conflict, 4, 2019Acrylic on canvas
62 x 45 x 4.5 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
Painting and conflict, 2 by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaPainting and conflict, 2, 2019Acrylic on canvas
62 x 45 x 4.5 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
Painting and conflict 1 by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaPainting and conflict 1, 2019Acrylic on canvas
180 x 122 x 5.5 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
Eight different problems by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaEight different problems, 2019UV cured acrylic paint on wood
83 x 56 x 4 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
Two cops wandering around by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaTwo cops wandering around, 2019UV cured acrylic paint on handmade paper (linen, hemp and cotton)
96.5 x 66 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
At the train station by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaAt the train station, 2019UV cured acrylic paint on handmade paper (linen, hemp and cotton)
88.9 x 53.3 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
New theatre by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaNew theatre, 2019UV cured acrylic paint on handmade paper (linen, hemp and cotton)
96.5 x 66 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work
Máscara by Alexandre Arrechea contemporary artwork
Alexandre ArrecheaMáscara, 2015Tapestry and stainless steel
250 x 200 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Enquire about this work

Alexandre Arrechea Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, #arteconecta at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Closed
2 April–30 June 2020 Group Exhibition #arteconecta Galeria Nara RoeslerSão Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Alexandre Arrechea, Superícies em conflito at Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
Closed
11 June–31 August 2019 Alexandre Arrechea Superícies em conflito Galeria Nara RoeslerRio de Janeiro
Contemporary art exhibition, Alexandre Arrechea, Corners at Galeria Nara Roesler, New York
Closed
27 February–13 April 2019 Alexandre Arrechea Corners Galeria Nara RoeslerNew York

Alexandre Arrechea Represented By

Galeria Nara Roesler contemporary art gallery in São Paulo, Brazil Galeria Nara Roesler New York, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo

Alexandre Arrechea In Related Press

First Look: The 2019 Havana Biennial Related Press First Look: The 2019 Havana Biennial 16 January 2019, Cuban Art News

With just about three months to go, the 13th Havana Biennial is taking shape. Opening April 12 and running through May 12, Cuba's most important art event is expected to once again bring the international art world to Havana. Postponed due to damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, the 13th edition expands the Biennial's reach in Havana and around...

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Breaking News: The Art Group Los Carpinteros Is Moving On Related Press Breaking News: The Art Group Los Carpinteros Is Moving On 8 August 2018, Cuban Art News

Cuba's most widely known and critically acclaimed art collective has officially dissolved. Last week, Marco Castillo of Los Carpinteros issued a press release headlined 'Dissolution of the Collective LOS CARPINTEROS; New Horizons for Its Two Artists.'

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'Cultural feeding frenzy': Art world descends on Cuba for Havana Biennial Related Press 'Cultural feeding frenzy': Art world descends on Cuba for Havana Biennial 29 May 2015, Los Angeles Times

Rosa Lowinger has been getting the invitations at a rate of two a day. The Los Angeles-based sculpture conservator, who writes frequently on Cuba and leads art and architectural tours of the country, is in the Cuban capital for the opening of the latest edition of the Havana Biennial. And the mood, she says, is frenetic. Friday marked the...

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Cuban sculptor wins Artist of the Year prize from U.S.-based Farber Foundation Related Press Cuban sculptor wins Artist of the Year prize from U.S.-based Farber Foundation

A Cuban artist known for whimsical public sculptures received a new award from a U.S. foundation Wednesday in a reflection of warmer relations between the countries. Alexandre Arrechea was named Cuban Artist of the Year by the U.S.-based Farber Foundation at a ceremony in Old Havana. The award comes with a $10,000 prize. Also honored...

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Alexandre Arrechea In Video & Audio

Woodcuts: Alexandre Arrechea Related Video & Audio Woodcuts: Alexandre Arrechea 8 March 2013, MAD Museum

Presented in conjunction with Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design at the Museum of Arts and Design, on view March 19, 2013 to September 15, 2013.

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