La Habana, 1974
Jairo Alfonso (Havana) is a Cuban artist living and working in New York. He is a graduate from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana. Throughout his career, Jairo Alfonso has been interested in exploring material culture from an archaeological perspective, particularly the multilayered nature of objects, their history and symbolism, in drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations and videos. Recently he developed a body of work reflecting on the relationship we, as human beings, establish with the objects we create, use, and discard. He explores two forms of relationships: hoarding and disassembling.
Alfonso addresses hoarding as “horror vacui” drawings. These works depict accumulations of objects, devices and accessories from everyday life, piled up, and drawn closely together, so as to flood the pictorial space. Each object is represented life-size. Hoarding as clear sign of consumerism informs this series. He pairs the act of drawing with that of consuming goods, which is why he packs these “boxes” with objects of every kind. The title of the works indicates the number of objects drawn in it. As for the disassembling series, in each work he focuses on a single object which function is that of offering audio or visual information (radios, cameras, TVs, etc.…), and the act of dismantle it becomes an anatomic lesson of sorts, which allows the viewer to immerse themselves into a new world composed by the history, epoch, ideology, materials and shapes hidden in these artifacts. Therefore, from these works the artist usually extract the objects that become subjects of my videos, characterized by the use of the stop-motion animation.
Alfonso has been featured in more than ten solo exhibitions worldwide and in over 60 group shows. His works have been part of important shows, such as Useless: Machines for Dreaming, Thinking and Seeing at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2019); A sense of Place. Selections from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection en Mana Wynwood Convention Center, Miami (2015); Flow: Economies of the Look and Creativity in Contemporary Art from the Caribbean, Washington DC (2014); Cuban America: An Empire State of Mind, Lehmann College Art Gallery, New York (2014); Occupying, Building, Thinking: Poetic and Discursive Perspectives on Contemporary Cuban Video Art (1990-2010), Contemporary Art Museum (USF) Tampa (2013); Politics: I don’t like it, but it likes me, Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdanks (2013); Batiscafo/ Proyecto Circo. 8 Bienal do Mercosul. Ensaios de Geopoética, Porto Alegre (2011) among others. He has participated in various artist residencies such as The Fountainhead Residency, Miami (2019), Marble House Project, Vermont (2015) and Guttenberg Arts, New Jersey (2014). He is also a recipient of a Pollock- Krasner Foundation Grant (2017). His work is part of public and private collections such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles; the Permanent Collection of the Province of Hainaut, Belgium; the Havana Galerie Collection, Zürich, among others.