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Biography

MAGDALENA FERNÁNDEZ  (b. 1964, Venezuela)

“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.

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), Houston, Texas, USA (2015-2016, 2020-2021); Permission to be Global / Prácticas Globales, Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (2014); Beyond the Supersquare, Bronx Museum of Arts, New York, USA (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.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2019     
Magdalena Fernández: Ecos, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico 
Magdalena Fernández: Ecos, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

2018    
Estructuras Elásticas, Carmen Araujo Arte Gallery, Caracas, Venezuela 
Mares, instalación corporal, Centro Cultural Chacao Theatre, Caracas, Venezuela

2017    
Video Crossings: Magdalena Fernández, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern, Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, Houston, TX, USA
Magdalena Fernández: Flexible Structures, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2016    
Uprooting Architecture: Climas, IdeoBox Artspace, Miami, FL, USA
Magdalena Fernández, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA, USA

2014    
Magdalena Fernández, El dibujo fuera de Sí: Triptico de Venezuelas (1970-2014), 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    
Mobile Geometry, Henrique Faría Fine Art, New York, NY, USA
2iPM009, The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
Objetos Movientes: Atmósfera, Estructuras, Tierras, Centro Cultural Chacao, Periférico Caracas / Arte Contemporáneo; FARIA+FABREGAS Galería, Caracas, Venezuela

2010    
2iPM009, haus konstruktiv, Zürich, Switzerland (solo show within Complete Concrete)
1i010, French Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela

2006    
Superficies, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas, Venezuela
Surfaces, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA

2003    
1i003 Site Specific, Banco Mercantil, Caracas

2000    
Lines, Pedro Cera Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal
2i000, Galleria Disegno Arte Contemporanea, Mantova, Italy
4i000, Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas, Venezuela

1998    
Aires, Sala Mendoza, Caracas, Venezuela

1997    
2i997, Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

1996    
1i996, Verifica Center 8+1, Venice-Mestre, Italy

1993    
Estructuras, Sala Mendoza, Caracas, Venezuela

1991    
Aspettando la parola, Town Hall of Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy

Selected Public Collections

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA

Centre d´Art Contemporain Frank Popper, Marcigny, France

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA

Colección Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, Mexico City, Mexico

Colección Allegro, Caracas, Venezuela

Colección Cisneros, Caracas, Venezuela

Colección D.O.P., Caracas, Venezuela

Colección Isabel y Agustin Coppel (CIAC), Ciudad de México, Mexico

Colección Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela

Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC), Venezuela / USA 

Colección Sayago & Pardon, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Fundación de Museos Nacionales, Caracas, Venezuela

Fundación Letty Coppel, Mexico

Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela

Miami Art Museum (MAM), Miami, FL, USA

Municipio de Netanya, Herzliyya, Israel

Museo Alejando Otero, Caracas, Venezuela

Museo de Arte Moderno de Cuenca, Ecuador

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

Museo Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles, CA, USA

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

Museum Sztuki w Lodzi, Lodz, Poland

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, USA