Biography

“In some way, my work is a self-portrait, even if it deals with themes such as drug-trafficking or war, events that I have no direct part; that information passes through the filter of ‘I’…”

Miguel Ángel Rojas is a conceptual and multimedia artist whose work addresses subjective experience, identity, and politics. His projects have included indictments of international drug trafficking and violence, and much of his work focuses upon experiences of marginality. In 1964, he began studying architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, where he remained for six semesters. Deciding not to pursue a career in architecture, Rojas enrolled at the School of Fine Arts at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá in 1969. His earliest experiments with long-exposure photographic portraits and self-portraits began during this period in the mid-1960s, and continued throughout the 1970s.

In 1973, he began one of his most important series of photographs, the Faenza series. Rojas took these photographs—of encounters between gay men at B-movie theaters in Bogotá—secretly, hiding his camera in a suitcase or under a jacket.  The resulting images are ghostly records of the affective and physical experiences of a largely invisible community. The series also marks Rojas’s first exploration of his own subjectivity as central to his work, and it was his first extended foray into photography “at a time when photography was not a medium considered part of the great canon of the plastic arts,” he recalls. The freedom that came with working outside of the accepted subject matter and materials of fine arts allowed Rojas the space to make what he would call “leaps in the dark” as he established his formative style. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Rojas also worked with engraving, drawing, video, intaglio, stitching, and photographic reductions.

In the mid-1990s, Rojas began using coca leaves in his work. Initially the works explored histories of indigenous life in Colombia, but over time Rojas began using them to comment upon the production of cocaine for consumption in the first world.  Since the 1990s, he has used coca to reconstruct pop imagery, bringing consumerism into dialogue with widespread political and social problems. “The great lesson of pop, for me,” he says, “is the way society looks at itself—understanding that art is in everything. That it is the ‘skin’ of culture. Every human action, all the markers of an age, including tastes and violence, are the driving forces in art.”

Miguel Ángel Rojas lives and works in Bogotá.

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Negocios Grandes y Pequeños, Galería Casas Reigner, Bogotá, Colombia

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015: Miguel Angel Rojas: Unas de cal y otras de arena (Quimbaya), Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, ARCO Madrid 2015, Madrid, Spain 2013: El camino corto, Sala de Arte Publico de Siqueiros, La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico 2012:Camino Corto, Museo de Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia El Nuevo Dorado, Solo Project Invitation, ARCO, Feria Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid, Spain 2011: At the Edge of Scarcity, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA 2009: Pueblito, Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo. Santa Martha, Colombia

2008: FotoFest 2008, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2007: Objetivo-Subjetivo, Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá, Colombia

David, La vitrina, Lugar a Dudas, Cali, Colombia

2006: FotoFest 2006, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2004: Must we meet like this?, Casas Riegner Gallery, Miami, FL, USA

2002: La Cama de Piedra, Museo Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia

2001: Sub, Galería Valenzuela – Klenner, Bogotá, Colombia

2000: La Cama de Piedra, Alianza Colombo – Francesa, Bogotá, Colombia

1995: Pascal y Pascual, Museo del Chopo, Mexico City, Mexico

1992: Dibujo y Pintura, Galería Arteria, Barranquilla, Colombia

1991: Bio, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

1990: Miguel Angel Rojas, Museo de Arte Moderno, Cartagena, Colombia

Miguel Angel Rojas obra en proceso, Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellín, Colombia

Pinturas, Galería Garcés-Velásquez, Bogotá, Colombia

1985: Bio, Intar Latin-American Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1982: Subjetivo, Galería Garcés-Velásquez, Bogotá, Colombia

1981: Works on Paper, Center for Inter-American Relationes, New York, NY, USA

1980: Grano, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia Miguel Ángel Rojas's work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including Project Video, Sicardi Gallery (2013); São Paulo Bienal (2010); Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2010); Fotográfica Bogotá (2005); Cantos Cuentos Colombianos, Daros Latinamerica Collection (2004 and 2013); Colombia 2003, Museo de Arte Moderno MAMBA, Buenos Aires (2003); The American Effect, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); Re-Aligning Vision, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MARCO Monterrey, and Miami Art Museum (1998-1999), and FotoFest (1992).

Selected Public Collections

Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango del Banco de La República, Bogotá, Colombia

Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL, USA

Coleccion de la Rectoria de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia

Coleccion Embajada de Colombia en España, Madrid, Spain

Daros Latin America Collection, Zürich, Switzerland

Diane and Bruce Halle Collection, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Embajada de Francia, Bogotá, Colombia

Fundación La Caixa, Barcelona, Spain

Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Museo de Arte Americano de Managua, Managua, Nicaragua

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), Spain

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico

Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia

Museo de Arte Moderno, Barranquilla, Colombia

Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

Museo de Arte Moderno, Bucaramanga, Colombia

Museo de Arte Moderno, Cartagena, Colombia

Museo de Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

Museo Nacional, Bogotá, Colombia

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA

Tate Modern, London, UK