On view from 13 August, approximately fifteen works from Hurtado’s I Am series spotlight the uniquely poetic way in which she channeled her lifelong fascination with corporality and self-affirmation into powerful yet delicate images in charcoal, crayon, graphite, ink, and gouache. These deeply personal self-portraits find the artist exchanging her own visual perspective with that of the viewer.
These drawings and paintings on paper allow viewers to inhabit Hurtado’s gaze—to look down onto fragments of her body as if it was their own—through the use of dramatic foreshortening and tight cropping. Thus, Hurtado’s breasts, stomach, arms, hands, legs, and feet, shown from a perspective seldom offered in the history of portraiture, become those of the viewer.
Reinforcing the quiet privacy of these scenes, Hurtado is often depicted performing such quotidian activities as reading, holding a spoon, or simply taking a step. The quickness of the artist’s ink marks, delicate application of paint, and soft rubbing of charcoal amplify the immediacy and poignancy of these works.
Hurtado began the I Am series (which includes both works on paper and on canvas) in the late 1960s and continued the series while living in Santiago, Chile, with her husband, the painter Lee Mullican, and their two sons. While in Chile, Hurtado used her closet as a studio; its confined dimensions contributed to the dramatic perspective and lighting—often just a beam of light through the closet door—in the final images.
About the artist
Born in Maiquetía, Venezuela, in 1920, Luchita Hurtado dedicated over eighty years of her extensive oeuvre to the investigation of universality and transcendence. Developing her artistic vocabulary through a coalescence of abstraction, mysticism, corporality and landscape, the breadth of her experimentation with unconventional techniques, materials and styles speak to the multicultural and experiential contexts that shaped her life and career.
On view in Southampton
‘Luchita Hurtado’ is on view now through 1 October 2022 at Hauser & Wirth Southampton.
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