Los Angeles–based artist Carmen Argote (b. 1981, Guadalajara, Mexico) traces, layers, and transforms diverse materials sourced from her surroundings.
“Carmen Argote: As Above, So Below,” 2019. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni
At the heart of her interdisciplinary practice is a continuous conversation between her own physical form and the location in which she is working—often responding to the various cultural, economic, personal, and historical narratives within a particular site. Informed by this dialogue, many of her works bare vestiges of her body’s interactions with its environment. Working with materials seeped in symbolic significance—such as coffee, pine needles, avocado, and cochineal dye—Argote’s work sheds light on the constantly shifting surface of urban landscapes and her own experience as a Mexican immigrant in the United States.
For her first solo museum exhibition, Argote presents a selection of new and recent paintings, large-scale works on paper, and a sculptural installation. The majority of these works were created during two residencies in Guadalajara, including one in the former home and studio of renowned Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. As is typical with her practice, Argote responded to the surrounding architecture and agriculture, incorporating the varieties of plants and fruit in Orozco’s central courtyard and gardens as well as other locally sourced produce into this body of work as raw materials. The exhibition’s title, “As Above, So Below,” comes from an aphorism associated with sacred geometry and tarot that construes the terrestrial world as a reflection of the celestial one. The title speaks to the transformative quality of Argote’s work, in which native plants, natural pigments, architecture, and the artist’s body interact with one another alchemically, giving rise to something else entirely.
This exhibition is curated by Margot Norton, Curator.
Carmen Argote (b. 1981, Guadalajara, Mexico) lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her BA and MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Her work as been exhibited at various institutions, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Ballroom Marfa, Texas (2017); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2017); National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago (2015); and MAK Center, Los Angeles (2015). She is a recipient of the Artadia Award, Los Angeles (2019); The Nancy Graves Foundation Artist Grant (2018); the Rema Hort Mann Foundation YoYoYo Grant (2015); and the California Community Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2013).