Rubén Ortiz–Torres

Rubén Ortiz-Torres

Exhibition: Nov 8, 2001 – Jan 13, 2002

Dividing his time between Mexico City and Los Angeles, Rubén Ortiz-Torres recognizes that place and identity are tenuous and continually transforming. Having obtained his primary education in Mexico City at a progressive school promoting creative thought and independent research, the artist identified with art at an early age as an outlet allowing total freedom of expression. Moving to Los Angeles in 1990, he began working in various media including paint, photography, film, video, and multimedia collage. Ortiz-Torres’s work is profoundly impacted by the tensions and intersections embedded in multiculturalism, nationalism, capitalism, and hybridization. Using a mixture of components derived from icons of contemporary culture and high art, the artist has created a style that has often been described as “neo-baroque pop” or “multicultural pop.”

Ortiz-Torres’s work is rooted in contemporary culture, genres, idiosyncrasies, and hybridity. Socially and politically conscious, his films are experimental documentaries about cross-cultural intersections. Blending Latin and American art, history, politics, and myth into thought-provoking concepts and stimulating visual productions, La Zamba del Chevy, a recent two-part work comprised of a three-dimensional video projection and a 1960 Chevrolet Impala lowrider, appealed to his strong interest in Chicano lowrider culture and the evolution of technology and representation.

For his ArtPace residency Ortiz-Torres collaborates with fellow resident artist and independent filmmaker Jim Mendiola on a project about the Alamo, the most popular historical landmark in San Antonio and a symbol of Texas’s independence from Mexico in 1836. With particular attention to history’s cyclical nature, the artists emphasize the process by which the Alamo has become a blend of battle myth, holy shrine, tourist spectacle, and archeological site that is an important, yet enigmatic, component of Texas history. By focusing on its current status as a tourist destination, the artists borrow the vocabulary of the tourist trade in creating an installation comprised of a 3-D movie, two linticular hologram prints of a dis/appearing Alamo, and a life-size wax sculpture/fountain of rock star Ozzy Osbourne. In an infamous 1992 incident, Osbourne was arrested for desecrating the Alamo and was then banned from playing future concerts in San Antonio. Ortiz-Torres’s and Mendiola’s wax figure wryly approximates the event with carnival-like exactitude. By highlighting unusual historical occurrences such as this, the artists emphasize how these events have become incorporated into the Alamo’s exaggerated and often manipulated history. The movie, sculpture, and prints encourage the viewer to search for a means to redefine the Alamo by sifting through its problematic past and symbolic value.


Rubén Ortiz-Torres

Los Angeles, California, USA

Rubén Ortiz-Torres was born in 1964 in Mexico City, Mexico. He received his BFA in visual arts from the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Mexico City, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to attend the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, where he earned his MFA in 1992. Working in various media, Ortiz-Torres has exhibited his work throughout the United States and internationally. Exhibitions and screenings include the Galería de Arte Contemporaneo, Galería OMR, and Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico; Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Getty Center for the History of Art & the Humanities, Los Angeles, CA; Museo Nacional Centro Cultural La Raza, San Diego, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY; SITE Santa Fe, NM; and, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX.
Ortiz-Torres’s work has been collected by such prominent institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Public Library, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Grunwald Art Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA Hammer Museum of Art & Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Mexican Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago, IL; Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.
Ortiz-Torres has received numerous recognitions and awards for his art including grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (2000), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1999), Andrea Frank Foundation Award (1997), and a TVVS, PBS shared grant (1993). The artist has written abundantly on contemporary art and culture. Recent co-authored books include Customized: Art Inspired by Hot Rods, Low Riders and American Car Culture (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, New York, 2000) and Desmothernismo (Smart Art Press and the Huntington Beach Art Center, Huntington Beach, CA, 1998). The artist is an associate professor of studio art at the University of California, San Diego.
Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, selected Rubén Ortiz-Torres for his ArtPace residency. Medina has written extensively on contemporary art and is a former curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico

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Cuauhtémoc Medina

Mexico City, Mexico

Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, has written extensively on contemporary art and is a former curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City.

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