1967, Mexico City
With his sense of wit and humor, Damián Ortega deconstructs familiar objects and processes, altering their functions and transforming them into novel experiences and scenarios. Ortega’s work plays with a scale that ranges from the molecular to the cosmic, as the art critic Guy Brett says, Ortega combines the cosmic with the accidental, applying the concepts of physics to human interactions where chaos, accidents and instability produce a system of relations in flux. Inverting and dissecting, reconfiguring and zooming in, he explores the tension that underlies every object and the infinite world inside them. The result of his inquiries reveals the interdependence of diverse components either within a complex engineered machine, or a social system. Envisioning his projects through drawing – that then take form as sculpture, installation, performance, film and photography – for Ortega, the work of art is always an action: an event. His experiments inhabit a space where possibility and the everyday converge, to activate a transcendent new way of looking at simple objects and routine interactions.
Damián Ortega began his career as a political cartoonist. He joined Gabriel Orozco’s workshop Taller de los viernes from 1987 to 1992. In 2005 he was nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize and in 2007 was nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst. Similarly in 2014 he received the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution and in 2006 he made an artistic residency at Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) in Berlin.
Among his work it is important to mention Alias Editorial, a project that started in 2006 which seeks the publication of essential and fundamental texts within contemporary art that have been discontinued or have not been translated into spanish, as well as having been written by the artists themselves or being interviews with them. In the same way and thanks to its austere edition, Alias makes the acquisition of such texts affordable for the public.
Damián Ortega lives and works in Mexico City.
Porous Structures, Gladstone Gallery, Nueva York; (2019); The Modern Garden, Garage Museum, Moscow, Russia (2018); Play Time, White Cube Bermondsey, London (2017); El cohete y el abismo, Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid (2016); Damián Ortega, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (2016); Casino, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2016), Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy (2015); O fim da matéria, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2015); Ape Culture, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin (2015); Cosmogonía doméstica, Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); Damián Ortega: Apestraction, The Freud Museum, London (2013); Tool Bit, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine (2011); Damián Ortega, Barbican Centre, London (2010); Do It Yourself. Damián Ortega, ICA- The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, United States (2009); Champ de vision, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2008); Man is the Controller of the Universe, Daadgalerie, Berlin (2007); Obelisco transportable, commissioned by Public Art Fund for Central Park, New York (2007); Damián Ortega: The Beetle Trilogy and Other Works, REDCAT CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, Los Angeles (2007); The Uncertainty Principle, UNTITLED Project Series, Tate Modern, London (2005), Damián Ortega, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2004); Cosmic Thing, Institute of Contemporary Art / University of Pennsylvania, Philadelfia, United States (2002), among others.
His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as: No habrá nunca una puerta. Estás adentro. Obras de la Coleção Teixeira de Freitas, Fundación Santander, Madrid (2019); Art and Space, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2018); Rastros y vestigios. Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City (2016), ICC-Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico (2015); Et In Libertalia Ego, Vol. II, MONA-Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (2016); The Way Things Go, Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (2016); Le précieux pouvoir des pierres, Musée d'Art moderne et d'Art contemporain (MAMAC), Nice, France (2016); Tools Extending Our Reach, Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York (2014); América Latina 1960–2013, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2013); Mexico: Inside Out, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, United States (2013); Life: A User’s Manual, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2011); Every Day Matters, Faurschou Foundation Copenhague, Denmark (2013); Mexico: Expected / Unexpected - collection Isabel et Agustín Coppel, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, United States (2011) and La maison rouge, Paris, (2008), among others.
Ortega has also participated in several biennials including: Tsumari-Echigo Triennale, Japan (2018); 14e Biennale de Lyon, France (2017); THE GARDEN – End of Times; Beginning of Times, ARoS triennial, Aarhus, Denmark (2017); APAP 6 Anyang Public Art Project, South Korea (2016); Sharjah Biennial 12, United Arab Emirates (2015); 55th and 50th Venice Biennial (2013 and 2003); 11 Bienal de la Habana, Cuba (2012); 4 Berlin Biennale (2006); 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); 27a Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2006) and 4th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2002).