Alida Cervantes is a Mexican artist who lives and works in the Tijuana and San Diego border region. Travelling daily between the US and Mexico, Cervantes’ work is characterised by an interest in power relations between race, class, gender and even species. Cervantes’ vivid historical paintings mask a reality in which social and political disparities play out on two levels, both within the intimate social structures of the artist’s home life and in the actuality of the political border that constitutes an impenetrable threshold for many Mexican citizens. The city of Tijuana, the border town where the artist was raised, provides the springboard into a painterly investigation of the actions, relationships and perceptions of Mexico’s cross-cultural and multi-ethnic society.
Cervantes uses painterly devises to create works of semi-narrative that address age-old dynamics of dominance and submission. Thus, her paintings adopt a strongly Mexican cultural discourse, implicated within wider narratives of colonial and post-colonial representation. Images of secrecy and intrigue, transgression, and subversion, as they exist in the artist’s imagination, become sites for the enactment of momentary impulses and sexualised desires. The collision of Catholic, indigenous, and African religious aspects is apparent through expressions of sin, guilt, and sacrifice. Cervantes’ paintings playfully attempt to re-root individuals in an alternative reality, fragmentary characters are imbued with meaningful agency as they revolt against a grand narrative.
Cervantes earned a BA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego (1995), after which she studied at Florence’s Scuola di Arte Lorenzo de’ Medici for two years. She earned her MFA from the University of California, San Diego (2013).
Alida Cervantes has exhibited extensively in both the US and internationally. Solo exhibitions include Nueva Pastelera, Galería International, CEART, Tijuana, Mexico (2022); Historia De Una Relación Amorosa, Cob Gallery, London, UK (2021); El Desastre Que Dejaste, Best Practice, San Diego, USA (2021); Untitled MIAMI Art Fair, Online Edition with Cob Gallery (2020); Pare de sufrir, DESLAVE, Tijuana, Mexico (2018); Majas, cambujas y virreinacas, Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, US (2017); 50 Sketches Using Unmixed Black, Athenaeum, La Jolla Ca, US (2016); and Los mas barbaros, Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles, US (2011). Cervantes has featured in numerous group exhibitions including Known Unknowns, Saatchi Gallery, London UK (2018); Making Communities: Art and the Border, University Art Gallery, UC San Diego, Ca, USA (2017); 2016 La distancia corta, Instituto de Cultura, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas (2016) ; and Hidden and Revealed: Representations of Women by Women, Angles Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca, US (2014). Cervantes’ work is part of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Charles Saatchi Collection, London, the Pérez Collection, as well as the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s permanent collection.