Luchita Hurtado’s I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn

The Serpentine (London) presents the first UK solo exhibition of works by Luchita Hurtado (b.1920, Maiqueti?a, Venezuela) on May 23 until October 20.

The exhibition ‘I LIVE I DIE I WILL BE REBORN’ will trace the trajectory of Hurtado’s expansive, 80-year career and reveal the scale, experimentation and playfulness of her impressive oeuvre. At the age of 98, she is now receiving the recognition she has long deserved and was recently featured in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2019.

Hurtado’s work is characterized by an original view of the world that is both grounded and transcendental, and her subject matter makes use of unexpected perspectives – looking straight down or across her own body, or straight up to a glimpse of sky – using cosmic motifs and geometric abstractions. Hers is a vision of the human body as a part of the world, not separate from nature. By coupling intimate gestures of the body with expansive views of the sky and the earth, Hurtado maps a visceral connective tissue between us all.

Hurtado was associated through friendship and family to specific artistic movements like Surrealism, the Dynaton Group and Magical Realism, but she maintained her unique practice in private, rarely exhibiting her work. Besides her painting, Hurtado is also a poet, an ecologist, a feminist and an activist. She also made contributions to photography and to fashion, designing her own clothes for many decades.

Hurtado moved from Venezuela to the United States in 1928, first freelancing as a fashion illustrator for Conde? Nast in New York, before relocating to Mexico City, where she joined a group of renowned artists and writers who had emigrated from Europe in the wake of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War and who were working under the banners of Surrealism and Magical Realism. By the late 1940s, Hurtado had moved to Mill Valley, California, where she was closely associated with the Dynaton Group. In 1951 she moved to Los Angeles, where she resides to this day. Her artwork has only been exhibited sporadically over her lifetime, and the majority was only discovered in recent years by her Studio Director, Ryan Good.

Comprised of graphite and ink drawings, crayon and ink paintings on board and paper, and oil paintings on paper and canvas, Hurtado has taken herself and her immediate surroundings as her subject, as well as more expansive themes of nature and language. The totemic emblem of a dancing figure has appeared regularly in her work, including a series of paintings created in the last twelve months and which are presented for the first time at the Serpentine.