Harold Mendez: Let us gather in a flourishing way at Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Sep 26, 2020 to Jan 10, 2021
All Images courtesy of Institute of Contemporary Art and the artist
Let us gather in a flourishing way is the first Los Angeles solo museum presentation of artist Harold Mendez (b. 1977, Chicago). Borrowing its title from a poem by Juan Felipe Herrera, the exhibition will include a selection of approximately 20 works by Mendez made over the past decade as well as newly produced works. Working between photography and sculpture, Mendez explores the tension between fiction and truth, visibility and absence, with an interest in how constructions of history and geography shape our sense of self.
A first-generation American of Mexican-Colombian descent, his work often considers the transnational experience, ritual, and cultural memory. Mendez’s large format two-dimensional works transform found photographs through a laborious manual transfer process similar to lithography. Using charcoal or graphite to build the surface, Mendez both traces and erases archival imagery with specific sociocultural or art historical references to create otherworldly new images. Mendez’s sculptures take found objects, industrial goods, or symbolic organic matter—such as eucalyptus bark, bone, or cochineal pigment—to examine identity and place; certain works become living rather than static objects, requiring the daily replenishment of water or flower petals. While experimenting with dramatic shifts in scale and unorthodox materials, Mendez’s excavatory approach to production is a process of unearthing and transforming that highlights the tenuous relationship between history and its representation.