UNTITLED Art, Miami 2020: Alida Cervantes

2 - 6 December 2020 

Cob presents a suite of new large scale paintings on aluminium and archive works on cardboard, by Mexican artist Alida Cervantes for UNTITLED Miami OVR 2020. The presentation is accompanied by an interview between the artist and curator and writer Hettie Judah. 

Alida Cervantes’ paintings reimagine the perceived boundaries upon which social, economic, and political conditions remain contingent. Raised in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, the artist’s home environment instilled from an early age a sense of Mexico’s hierarchical binaries of race, class and culture. 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 provides the springboard into a painterly investigation of the actions, relationships and perceptions of Mexico’s cross-cultural and multi-ethnic society.

Cervantes’ work explores the intricacy and intimacy of power using painterly devises to create works of semi-narrative that address age-old dynamics of dominance and submission, an uncomfortable yet inescapable part of human nature. Thus, Cervantes’ paintings adopt a strongly Mexican cultural discourse, as they are 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, as they might have been performed in some fantastical place. 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, a Mexican artist who was born in San Diego but grew up in Tijuana, plays with dolls, puppets, kitsch figurines, and masks: the miniatures, for the most part, that we've made of people. She blows them up - these paintings are big—and explodes assumptions about image and power.

Alida Cervantes is a Mexican artist who lives and works in the Tijuana and San Diego border region. Traveling daily between the US and Mexico, Cervantes’ work is characterized by an interest in power relations between race, class, gender and even species. She explores these hierarchies both at the level of sexual or intimate relationships and on the broad stages of history and politics. Cervantes earned a BA from the University of California, San Diego (1995), then studied at Florence’s Scuola di Arte Lorenzo de’ Medici for two years. In 2013, she earned her MFA fro the University of California, San Diego. Her work is part of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Charles Saatchi Collection, London, as well as the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s permanent collection.