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Damian Ortega, One of Mexico's Leading Artists of a New Generation, is Subject of Exhibition
Damián Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002, Disassembled 1989 Volkswagen Beetle, 265 x 276 x 296 in. (673.1 x 701 x 751.8 cm), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles , purchased with funds provided by Eugenio López and the Jumex Fund for Contemporary Latin American Art.

BOSTON, MA.- The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston opens a major exhibition of work by Mexican-born artist Damián Ortega. In playful and imaginative ways, he explores the elements that make up a whole – whether a dwelling, a body, a society or an economic system. In Ortega's art, everyday objects such as entire cars, chairs, and building bricks are pulled apart, suspended or rearranged into dynamic configurations. Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself presents 19 works from 1996 to the present. It includes large-scale sculpture, photography, and film, and a work never before on view (Selection from Belo Horizonte Project). The exhibition is curated by Jessica Morgan, ICA adjunct curator and curator of contemporary art at Tate Modern, London, with assistance from Randi Hopkins, ICA associate curator. Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself opens Sept. 18 and runs through Jan. 18, 2010.

“This groundbreaking exhibition of Damián Ortega’s work is a timely opportunity to experience the evolution of one of the most prominent artists working today,” says Jill Medvedow, director of the ICA. “Raised in Mexico and living in Germany, his international perspective is both playful and philosophical, and reflects the perpetual states of flux, dissolution and reformation that define all of our lives.”

Exploded, deconstructed, collapsed and unbalanced, Ortega’s works challenge the idea of sculpture as solid, permanent, and monumental. His experience as a political cartoonist is also key, as seen in the wordplay, puns and double entendre in his art.

“Ortega’s sense of space and form draws from traditional sculptural production, but he is less interested in the final structure than in the state of ‘in between’,” says curator Jessica Morgan. “His work registers the moment – or moments – of transition when one thing becomes another. Even the end result that we see in the gallery is just another possible state in a continual flow of transformation.”

Ortega often uses unexpected materials such as corn and tortillas in his work. These materials give specific cultural references to Mexico and Latin America while evoking larger political and social themes. Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself includes one of the artist’s most iconic and powerful works, Cosmic Thing (2002) – a fully deconstructed Volkswagen Beetle that hangs suspended from the gallery ceiling. In Mexico, the Beetle was the first readily available car and it soon became a ubiquitous symbol of the capital city–and of Mexico’s growing consumer society. When the cars needed repair, their simple construction allowed do-it-yourself fixing; the Beetle –and the cars made of mismatched parts – inspired Ortega’s work.

Never before on view, Ortega’s installation Selection from Belo Horizonte Project (2004) occupies the ICA’s Founders Gallery overlooking Boston Harbor. The work fills the west side of the Gallery with a repeating series of mirrored squares placed in an extended grid along the wall and in four multi-faceted, mirrored cubes on the floor. Made from polished stainless steel, the installation offers stunning reflections of the Gallery’s waterfront views, integrating viewers into the scene.

Born in 1961 in Mexico City, Damián Ortega is the leading Mexican artist of the generation that emerged in the wake of the influence of Gabriel Orozco and Francis Alÿs. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Tate Modern, London (2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005) and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008). In 2005, Ortega’s work was included in Made in Mexico, a group exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Damián Ortega: Do It Yourself is the first survey exhibition of the artist’s work. Ortega lives in Mexico City and Berlin.

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