'You are what you feel, what you hear, what you know.'—Luchita Hurtado
Luchita Hurtado (1920 – 2020) documented the interconnectedness of human beings, nature, and terrestrial life through a diverse body of work and a practice that spanned more than eighty years. It was with great sadness that Hauser & Wirth recently announced the artist's death at the age of 99. Organized in close collaboration with Hurtado earlier this year, the intimate exhibition, ‘Luchita Hurtado. Together Forever’, will be on view at Hauser & Wirth New York through 31 October 2020. ‘Together Forever’ presents over thirty works from the 1960s through the present day in which she explored the self and the surrounding world as her primary subject.
Many of these highly personal artworks – recent paintings of birth along with early works on paper that have remained largely private up to this point – will be on view to the public for the first time. ‘Luchita Hurtado. Together Forever’ celebrates the various forms of the artist throughout her career and life. Even in the last days of her life, Luchita Hurtado continued to experiment and push the boundaries of her own practice.
Parallel to a dynamic period of experimentation between abstraction and figuration in the early 1960s, Hurtado also focused her work inward, marking a trajectory to uncover new forms of self through portraits of herself in mirrors, looking down at her own body, and studies of her shadow.
Throughout her practice up until recent years, Hurtado documented the forms of shadows in photographs and drawings, studying their size, shape, and potential. In early examples from the series included in this exhibition, the artist rendered her own body with oil, charcoal, or graphite on paper, sometimes juxtaposed with her own environment. In some works, a number of figures are depicted. However, these are multiple representations of her own shadow and the artist remains in solitude as her only subject.
In the most recent paintings on view, Hurtado evolves into the landscape as she explored ways in which her own body would transform and regenerate the earth. Functioning as a symbolic proxy and an intimate meditation on the Earth as mystic progenitor, these works underscore the interconnection between corporeality and the natural world – a delicate balance that is now in jeopardy.
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. Hurtado emigrated to the United States in 1928, settling in New York where she attended classes at the Art Students League. She relocated to Mexico City in the late 1940s and then moved to San Francisco Bay in the following decade. Eventually, Hurtado settled in Santa Monica, California and frequently visited her second home in Taos, New Mexico.