"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
About the artist
Damián Ortega was born in Mexico City in 1967. He uses objects from his everyday life—Volkswagen Beetle cars, Day of the Dead posters, locally-sourced corn tortillas—to make spectacular sculptures which suggest stories of both mythic import and cosmological scale. Ortega began his career as a political cartoonist and his works balance humor with incisive observations on political, social, and economic conditions. In many of the artist’s sculptures, vernacular objects are presented in precise arrangements—often suspended from the ceiling or as part of mechanized systems—that become witty representations of diagrams, solar systems, words, buildings, and faces. These shifts in perception are not just visual but also cultural, as the artist draws out the social history of the objects featured in his sculptures, films, and performances. The intellectual leap between recycled quotidian objects and complex systems of thought is what lends Ortega’s work a humble yet profound poesis.
Damián Ortega’s awards and residencies include the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2014), Preis der Nationalgalerie fur junge Kunst (nominee, 2007), DAAD Scholarship (2006), Hugo Boss Prize (nominee, 2005), and the Colecção Teixeira de Freitas Artist Residency in Lisbon (2005). Ortega has had major exhibitions at the Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2016); Malmö Konsthall (2016); The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2016); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2015); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2015); Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro (2015); Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); Venice Biennale (2013, 2003); Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2011); Barbican Center, London (2010); ICA Boston (2009); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008); Tate Modern, London (2005); and MoCA, Los Angeles (2005), among others. Damián Ortega lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.