Retorno (For Juan Mora Catlett)
This collage—a study for a future life-sized work—is inspired by a pre-Columbian deity portrayed in Mexican film director Juan Mora Catlett’s In Necuepaliztli in Aztlan (translated as Return to Aztlán) (1990). In this work, a film still of the deity’s head has been treated to emphasize the symmetrical split in the center of the figure’s face. The artist places the film still over a layer of bright metals—copper and mica that the artist collected from a mine in New Mexico—and a vibrant blue surface. The composition evokes an eclipse, referencing an encyclopedic album of the natural world, Historia Natural (1967), that the artist read as a child growing up in Colombia. This work combines materials both historical and autobiographical to imagine the pre-Columbian deity as a celestial body.
Mendez's materials—frequently culled from archives and geographic sites—embody erased histories. The artist uses these materials in carefully researched works that examine how constructed histories shape our sense of self. Mendez, as a first-generation American of Mexican-Colombian descent, engages with the transnational experience as it relates to ritual and cultural memory to create his artworks—exploring the tensions between fiction and truth, as well as visibility and absence.
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Harold Mendez’s photography, sculpture and installation works explore the tensions between fiction and truth, as well as visibility and absence. The artist’s work combines research with archival materials culled from geographic sites—objects that embody erased histories—to examine how historical constructions and geography shape our sense of self. As a first-generation American of Mexican-Colombian descent, Mendez’s practice draws from the transnational experience—and its relationship to both ritual and cultural memory.
Harold Mendez was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1977. The artist received an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007, and a BA from Columbia College Chicago in Illinois in 2000. In addition, Mendez attended the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s School of Art and Design in Kumasi, Ghana in 1999.
Solo and group exhibitions that have shown Mendez’s work include: Harold Mendez: And, perhaps, here, between, curated by Gean Moreno at ICA Miami in Miami, Florida (2021); Let us gather in a flourishing way, curated by Jamillah James at ICA VCU in Richmond, Virginia (2021); Grain of a Hand: Drawings with Graphite at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois (2021); Senses of Brown at the Armory Show in New York City (2021); Time Takes a Cigarette at Josh Lilley Gallery in London, UK (2021); LatinXAmerican at the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, Illinois (2021); Let us gather in a flourishing way, curated by Jamillah James at ICA LA in Los Angeles, California (2020); The years now, curated by Katja Rivera Reva and David Logan Center for the Art at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois (2020); Field (Encounter): Harold Mendez at the Moody Center for the Arts, Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, TX (2019); The days of yesterday are all numbered in sum at Van Every/ Smith Galleries, Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina (2019); For other days at PATRON in Chicago, Illinois (2019); Cross Currents/ Intercambio Cultural at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago, Illinois (2019); Being, New Photography, curated by Lucy Gallun at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (2018); the Whitney Biennial, curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (2017); Traces in the Dark, curated by Liz Park at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2015); Fore, curated by Lauren Haynes, Naima J. Keith and Thomas J. Lax at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City (2012); Several Silences, curated by Hamza Walker at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Illinois (2009); September 11, curated by Peter Eleey at the Museum of Modern Art / PS1 in New York City (2011); and UBS 12 x 12: New Artists / New Work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois (2008); among many others.
Mendez’s work is included in the public collections of: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City; the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, Illinois; the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Colección Diéresis in Guadalajara, Mexico; and the J.P. Morgan Chase Collection in New York City, among many others.
Mendez lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
This collage—a study for a future life-sized work—is inspired by a pre-Columbian deity portrayed in a film by Mexican film director Juan Mora Catlett. This work combines materials both historical and autobiographical to imagine the pre-Columbian deity as a celestial body.More
- Framed: 21.0 x 27.1 x 1.5 in.