Exhibition — 23 Nov 2019 until 5 Apr 2020
The first ever retrospective exhibition in Europe of the work of Carlos Amorales will open at Stedelijk during Amsterdam Art Weekend 2019. Carlos Amorales – The Factory showcases the work of one of Mexico’s most important contemporary artists from the 1990s to the present day –the most recent piece was made especially for the exhibition. Spanning 14 rooms of the museum, the exhibition includes spatial works, installations, paintings, drawings, videos, prints, textiles, animations, and sound works, which Amorales incorporates in his open, non-chronological, large-scale spatial installations. Visitors will be able to navigate their own route around Amorales’s world of fantastical images and stories that explore the field of tension between the individual and society.
Carlos Amorales began his career in Amsterdam in the 1990s, as a student at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Rijksakademie. It was during this period in the city that he changed his name to Carlos Amorales, a conceptual identity which he would ‘lend’ to other people as part of his enquiry into the function of art in everyday life. He lent the Amorales character (a masked figure inspired by Mexican lucha libre wrestlers) to artist friends, fighters, and strangers. They adopted his stage name and donned his mask to take part in wrestling matches and in performances in museums and other art institutions in Europe, US, and Mexico (venues include Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou).
Amorales left Amsterdam in 2004 to return to Mexico City, where he set up his own studio. Inspired by the media’s mass production and distribution of imagery – and with references to Warhol’s Factory and Disney’s early animation studio – Amorales and his team created a digital image bank titled Liquid Archive containing thousands of monochrome silhouettes in vector format. On request, this resource for the artist and his team is sometimes shared with third parties.
the globalized assembly-line has gotten a bit out of hand.
The Liquid Archive has formed the basis for the rich and multifaceted body of work that Amorales has built up over the last 15 years. The essentially open-source character of the images that Amorales creates (other people have ‘borrowed’ freely from them), means they can detach themselves from the world of autonomous art and stray into the realms fashion, music videos, tattoos, and record covers – through which they return to art in the form of work by other artists. Amorales’s Factory is a nod to pop culture and to our neoliberal world in which, the artist says, “the globalized assembly-line has gotten a bit out of hand.”
I have been following Carlos Amorales’s work since his Amsterdam years. When I visited him in Mexico City early last year, I was again impressed by his multifaceted practice and the keen intelligence with which he manages to walk that fine line between the aesthetic and the socio-political while foregrounding a multitude of topics, such as the roles artists can adopt within and outside the art world, the experience of being an outsider in an unknown culture, the infinite malleability of language, and the almost absurd torrent of images flooding the Internet. It has been a particularly rewarding experience to curate my final exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum with this inspiring Mexican artist.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book made in collaboration with Mevis and Van Deursen, the Amsterdam-based designers who worked with Amorales in 2000 on his first book Los Amorales, which is now a collector’s item. This new artist’s book focuses on Amorales’s studio practice. Interweaving and overlapping layers of comic strip-like frames (designed by Elsa-Louise Manceaux), a manifesto by Amorales about his artistic identity, and illustrations of his work, the design invites the reader to zoom in and out on the many aspects of Amorales’s artistic universe. With a written contribution by Reinaldo Laddaga.
Carlos Amorales represented Mexico at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017 with Life in the Folds, an installation that will also be part of the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum.
The work of Carlos Amorales is being presented by kurimanzutto, Mexico City and Galleri Nils Staerk, Copenhagen.
The exhibition Carlos Amorales – The Factory is generously supported by Ammodo and made possible by Nils Stærk, Copenhagen and kurimanzutto, Mexico City. The publication is made possible by Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel.