“I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn” Exhibition Showcases Luchita Hurtado’s Impressive Oeuvre

“I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn” Exhibition Showcases Luchita Hurtado’s Impressive Oeuvre

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London recently launched an exhibition that traces the trajectory of Hurtado's 80-year career / AC Manley via Shutterstock


For over 70 years, Luchita Hurtado has dedicated her life to painting and drawing through her investigation of transcendence and universality. She has been known to have developed an artistic vocabulary through merging mysticism, abstraction, experimentation with unconventional techniques, and corporality and landscape. At the same time, her style is deeply rooted in voicing out the multicultural and experiential contexts which have shaped her life and career. 

Throughout her career in the art industry, Hurtado has been committed to experimenting with forms, styles, and materials, and across a wide variety of media. Most of her works depict ideas about the universe and the cosmos, humanity, and nature and the environment. According to an article by the Hammer, Hurtado created numerous landscape paintings wherein the human body merges with either mountains or desert. Through these works, the artist challenges the binary notion that humans are disconnected from the natural world. 

Recently, Hurtado was finally recognized by the institutional art world after she was among the TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. The annual list includes the most influential leaders, pioneers, artists, and icons from several industries. This only cemented her reputation in the art industry.

Between the 1940s to the 1960s, Hurtado's works were defined by biomorphism, surrealist figuration, and geometric abstraction / Cristina Conti via Shutterstock


The Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London recently launched an exhibition that traces the trajectory of Hurtado's 80-year career. This is the first ever solo exhibition of works by the artist in the United Kingdom which will reveal the experimentation, scale, and playfulness of her impressive body of work. 

Luchita Hurtado: Life and Career

Hurtado's practice has always remained an independent pursuit, although she has been associated with a wide range of networks of internationally renowned intellectuals and artists. This includes Surrealists, Mexican muralists, and members of Dynaton. Born on October 28, 1920, Hurtado started her venture into the art scene during the 1940s. She became a muralist for Lord & Taylor and a fashion illustrator for Condé Nast.

According to an article by Hauser & Wirth, the artist moved to the United States in 1928 when she attended classes at the Art Students League in New York. In the following decade, she moved to Mexico City and San Francisco Bay. At the same time, she also made frequent visits to places like New Mexico and Taos. She then finally settled in Los Angeles. 

Hurtado's body of work focuses on self-affirmation. Between the 1940s to the 1960s, her works were defined by biomorphism, surrealist figuration, and geometric abstraction. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, her art continued to evolve, showing a marked shift toward naturalistic representation and figuration. Aside from that, her works showed the political and social changes happening not only in the United States but across the world. She was also inspired by the environmental movement and the women's liberation movement. 

Additionally, Hurtado was particularly receptive of the representation of her own body and women's movement, which she called an "affirmation to self," an assertion of presence and power. Thus, many of her paintings have Hurtado’s breasts, arms, legs, feet, and hands slightly visible against backdrops of patterned floors, woven baskets, and planters. These portraits often show symbolic imagery. For instance, yarn and baskets signify domestic labor; pears and apples refer for sex and sexuality; and toys symbolize children and family.

Luchita Hurtado Exhibition

In the exhibition entitled "I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn" hosted by the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Hurtado's early expression and the origins of her artistic output that continues to evolve throughout the years are featured. She believes that there's an interconnectivity between nature, human beings, and the cosmos. As she once said, "When that first photograph was taken of the world from space and you saw this little ball in blackness… I became aware of what I felt I was. I feel very much that a tree is a relative, a cousin. Everything in this world, I find, I’m related to." 

According to an article by FAD Magazine, her vision of the human body as part of the world is what visitors will see in the exhibition. She maps a visceral connective tissue between us all through incorporating parts of our bodies in her artworks. The exhibition will explore how the artist sees the interconnectedness of all beings through her expansive oil paintings, fabric collages, ink-based drawings, and patterned garments. 

The exhibition will also show how Hurtado navigated a number of different contexts and played an important role in all of those. For instance, she was at the forefront of environmental and feminist art movements and spiritual surrealism. At the same time, her art blurred the lines between micro- and macroscopic worlds. According to the New York Times, Hurtado's art and ideas are not the only things that should be admired about her. Her distinct visual vernacular, cross-disciplinary practice, and prolific output remained largely unknown until now. 

Throughout her career, Hurtado made a remarkable body of work consisting of oil paintings on paper and canvas, crayon and ink paintings on board and paper, graphite and ink drawings, and many more. She would often use themes of nature and language, making her art not only attractive but also full of meaning.