Magdalena Fernándezborn 1964, Venezuela
Magdalena Fernández

“Forms already existent in nature and my historical and geopolitical context pave my way to materialize an idea. I enjoy reshaping a gesture, a structure, a form. On other occasions, those same forms seem to ask for a transformation, a reformulation--one that becomes a new possibility not only through new media, but also through a different use and conception of space.”

Magdalena Fernández’s studies began in the fields of physics and mathematics; in 1982, she enrolled at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas. After two years at the university, she began exploring graphic design, and she traveled to Italy, where she studied with architect and designer A. G. Fronzoni. She worked as an independent graphic designer in Italy from 1990-2000. From this work, she developed a rigorous familiarity with line and structure. She began making stainless steel sculptures in the mid-1990s, setting them into the ground and inviting viewers to move in and around them. Her activation of the audience bears some relationships to the strong history of Venezuelan sculpture, especially to early interventions by Alejandro Otero and Jesús Rafael Soto, and much of her subsequent work considers how to reformulate these histories of modern art.


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fernández began using digital media to incorporate moving images to her work. She made a series of Dibujos móviles in 1998, followed soon after by a series of video installations called Pinturas móviles. In these, she references certain aspects of work by artists Piet Mondrian, Joaquín Torres-García, Lygia Clark, alongside Soto and Otero, but she reinterprets them, breaking down some of the authority of these canonical images and artists. There is, she argues, a dialectics of abstraction. Curator and writer Luis Perez Oramas writes, “It is therefore possible to verify in them the persistence of structures whose visual functioning still responds to the model of the great patterns of modern abstraction, provided it is also understood that, in a sort of conceptual background, what motivates the work from a poetical viewpoint is the persistence of a corporal or organic spectrum, a reduced or disseminated corporality.”


Indeed, much of Fernández’s abstractions look also to experiences of the natural world. She writes, “In 1998, I made my first video. It was also a gateway to work in space without structure and to address the problem of painting. Convinced that language and content go separate ways, I stepped back on those elements that placed me in the constructive stream in order to highlight what is my most immediate reference: nature.” Using the organic forms of nature, Fernández adds sound and noises to playfully reengage with how we experience these forms and how, by making them unstable, they can be transformed. “I believe instability deals with movement, with fracture, or with a possible transformation. Those thoughts have led to different formal results in my work, both in structural pieces and in videos. In fact, instability in my work is a physical event--an event that separates me from modernity,” she observes.

2017Magdalena Fernández, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
2016Magdalena Fernández, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA, USA
2014: Magdalena Fernández, Instituto de Canarias Cabrera Pinto de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
2012: Grises: un proyecto de Magdalena Fernández, NC-Arte, Bogotá, Colombia
2iPM009, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA, USA
2011: 2iPM009, Frost Museum, Florida International University, FL, USA
Objetos Movientes. Atmósferas-Estructuras-Tierras, Centro Cultural Chacao Periférico Caracas, Venezuela
2010: 2iPM009, Haus konstructiv, Zürich, Switzerland
Site specific 1i010, Residence of the Embassy of France, Caracas, Venezuela
2006: Superficies, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas, Venezuela
Surfaces, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA
2000: 2i000, Galería Disegno Arte Contemporánea, Mantua, Italy
4i000, Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas, Venezuela
1997: 2i997, Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela


Magdalena Fernández’s work has also been included in numerous important group exhibitions, including Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) (2015-2016); Permission to be Global / Prácticas Globales, Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014); Beyond the Supersquare, Bronx Museum of Arts (2014); Medios y Ambientes, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City (2012); X Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador (2009); 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); and Drawing Papers, The Drawing Center, New York (2006), among numerous others.

Centre d’Art Contemporain Frank Popper, Marcigny, France
Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA
Colección Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York, NY, USA
Fundación Coppel, Mexico City, Mexico
Fundación de Museos Nacionales, Caracas, Venezuela
Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela
Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas, Venezuela
Museo de Arte Moderno de Cuenca, Ecuador
Museo Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA, USA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA
Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, USA
Sayago & Pardon Collection, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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