SITE Santa Fe presents José Antonio Hernández-Diez, the first major museum exhibition in the United States of the work by this acclaimed Venezuelan artist. One of the most important Latin American artists of the last decade, Hernández-Diez creates candid, poetic, and, at times, disturbing and irreverent multimedia installations inspired by the vernacular culture and traditions of his home country. Hernández-Diez is part of a new generation of Venezuelan artists who began creating multimedia installations that challenged the aesthetic traditions that had dominated Venezuelan art since the early 1950s.
The emergence of this generation of artists occurred in the late 1980s, at nearly the same time that Venezuelans began a public process of searching for the solution to the economic and social crisis in their country. Hernández-Diez’s work is as engaged in the particular context of local culture as it is in the language of international post-modernism. This exhibition includes eight large-scale installations created between 1991 and 2000.
In many ways, Hernández-Diez’s work represents a reaction against stereotypical views of Latin American identity. He breaks expectations about cultural patterns to address popular culture and society in a poetic, indirect manner. He often incorporates cultural
clichés in a playful manner, using sardonic humor and occasionally employing interactive components as part of his work.
A guiding principal of Hernández-Diez’s work is the discomfort of the human species caught between its animal state and something more exalted. It is the paradox underlying
what it means to be human that provides the universal bond in his art, connecting works that seem separately motivated by politics, morality, or group behavior. Making and reinforcing the contradiction between our desire to act like a highly evolved species and our inescapable tendency to behave like animals, Hernández-Diez reflects a humanistic resonance without simplifying the moral predicaments created by contemporary society.
José Antonio Hernández-Diez was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1964. He currently lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.
This exhibition is organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, co-curated by Dan Cameron, senior curator, and Gerardo Mosquera, adjunct curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art. The first scholarly catalogue on Hernández-Diez will accompany the exhibition and will include essays by Dan Cameron and Gerardo Mosquera.
José Antonio Hernández-Diez is made possible by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Caracas; and Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz.
José Antonio Hernández-Diez
82 x 62 inches
Courtesy of the artist