Pepe López (b. Caracas 1966) is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works between Paris and Caracas. He received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas and studied for two years in the master’s program in Philosophy from Universidad Simon Bolivar.
Pepe López is a complex artist. His work is based on a vast trajectory of diverse transmutation. López explores the map of the social spectrum through the translation of aesthetic codes, while developing his perception and concepts in a prolific variety of mediums, such as installations, objects, collages, paintings, performances, photography, tapestry, video and sculptures.
As part of his research as an artist, he has gained wide experience curating major multidisciplinary and collective projects in art institutions such as The Puffin Foundation in New York City, Sala Mendoza and Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, and also from organizing projects with creative communities from different regions across his home country.
The tangible physical features of López work is deeply rooted in the foundations of contemporary Latin American abstraction, but his motivation, process and meanings question crucial aspects of contemporary life such as identity, violence, terrorism, manipulation, simulation, destruction, consumerism and communication, among others.
In his latest series of cartographies, artisans from Wayuus communities of the Guajira Peninsula, Venezuela or carpet weavers of Uttar Pradesh, India, and artisans from Petare, a huge slum in Caracas, weave traditional colorful tapestries and carpets out of contemporary images that López creates through technological mapping systems of different cities.
In other series, the artist maps global interactions, as in the work Guapísimas, where Pepe López beckons his audience to confront the reality of global consumerism through cultural codes of society. By painting and weaving fashion industry logos on traditional indigenous baskets -cartography of consumerism- but he also transforms these simple objects into allegorical representations of his own complaint.
The artist has a very particular way of inventing his methods of communication, developing several series of works at the same time. He walks through cities with a supermarket cart, recording his path with a video-camera while collecting trash, that later, in his studio, he classifies to use for his urban sculptures.
In Rhipsalis, sculptures series are created from metal dismantled structures of broken umbrellas collected in the streets of Caracas; in Puño e cruces, an adaptable and variable dimensions bamboo kites installation, that evokes the playful fly of kites over the city’s slums; and in El pavoreal -the Peacock- a colorful sculpture, made out of assembled floor brushes and brooms reminding us street vendors in populated cities.
But the supermarket cart remains as a sculpture in itself. Bella Caracas is cartography of domestic waste, a display of found objects hanging from a supermarket cart.
In all these works, Lopez presents an expanded vision of his home country, articulated in concepts, including political, economic, social and cultural practices.
Pepe López work is a continuous creative development that supports the next body of his art. The multiform nature of his commitment deploys in different directions at the same time. The works of Pepe López are a subtle web of connections and relationships, among the artist, the public and the space. Pepe López has participated in international art exhibitions such as New Territories at MAD, Museum of Art and design, New York, New York; Albuquerque Museum and Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico; He has also participated at 8th and 9th Havana Biennial, Cuba; 1st Mercosur Biennial, Brazil; Cartografias Meridionales at Museo de Rosario, Argentina; 2nd and 3rd Barro de America Biennial, Caracas, Venezuela; 6th Contemporary art Biennial, Centre d’Art Contemporain Frank Popper, Bourgogne, France; Caracas Reset at La Colonie, Paris, France,, among many other art shows.
He has also featured several international solo exhibitions, in London at the Fitzrovia Chapel a major solo show curated by Tamara Chalabi from Ruya Maps foundation, also in London at the Gasworks Gallery, in Paris at Galerie 13 Sevigne-Baudoin Lebon, and Galerie 13-Jeannete Mariani and in Miami at Dot Fiftyone Gallery.
As a photographer, he has a vast collection of series such as The angels cemetery in Coro, The South Cemetery of Caracas, Chocolate under attack, MoMo, TV heroes, Urban Fauna, etc. that have been exhibited at international art galleries and festivals such as The Hereford Photography Festival, Hereford, UK; The Puffin Room, New York, USA; ATHICA, Athens Institute of Contemporary Art, USA. His series Inventario sobre Caracas Cenital were recently published by magazine ELSE #10 from the Elysee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. And the most recent publication “The weapons hungry monster” #5 Bespoke collection by Editions Bessard in Paris, France.
Publications about his work include Pepe Lopez #62, Colección Arte Venezolano, Susana Benko, Published by Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Cultura; Diccionario biográfico de las Artes Visuales en Venezuela, Fundación Museos Nacionales; Contemporánea, New adquisitions of Museo Alejandro Otero. Pepe López was awarded in 1998 by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture, the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary for artists, for living, working and exhibiting in London, at the Gasworks with the support of InIVA and in 2015 was apointed as Venezuelan Young artist, by the International Art Critics Association, AICA, and in 2017 his solo show Escape room at Espacio Monitor in Caracas was awarded as the best Solo exhibition 2017 in Venezuela by the International Art Critics Asociation.