Due to COVID-19, the Hammer Museum is temporarily closed. More information.

Portrait of Mercedes Elena González

Born in 1952, Mercedes Elena González is a multimedia artist from Caracas, Venezuela. Between 1974 and 1976 she attended the Taller Teresa Azara in Caracas, and from 1976 to 1980 she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. González has been exhibiting her work since 1975, when she was awarded second place of the Premio Plástica Joven. Two years later, in 1977, she had her first solo show of drawings, at the Sala Mendoza in Caracas. During this time González was working on a series of drawings whose titles, such as Vulvosa or Mitosis, and abstract forms hint at the biological process of reproduction. The use of soft lines and colors are intended to generate in the viewer a sense of calmness and expectation, which she has referred to as "inercia óptica" (optical inertia).# After her solo show in 1996, the artist took a short hiatus until 2001, when she presented her series Entretejimiento, whose title is a portmanteau combining the Spanish words for "weave," "interweave," and "entertainment." The sculpture series Neurohilados (2002) touched on aspects of sewing, biology, psychology, medicine, astronomy, and geography. The Venezuelan critic and art historian Bélgica Rodríguez has said in regard to this series that González draws "impossible maps that…link words with thread-lines creating poetic webs that, like spider webs, structurally flood the pictorial space."#

González's works from 2012 to 2014, specifically her abstract paintings and works on paper, reference in clever ways the height of Venezuela's modernism in the 1950s. For instance, in her series Integral (2012), she manipulates the covers of the architecture magazine Integral from September 1950 by adding dark, ominous shapes that distort the geometric harmony that once proclaimed Venezuela as a center of modernism in the Americas. Her acknowledgment of this moment in the history of her country is meant to evoke the sense of disappointment felt by Venezuelans over the failure of the modernist project. The overlay of her forms superimposed over the magazine's modernist design reminds one of artistic genres such as op art and kinetic art, in which Venezuelan artists have also excelled. González has stated, "many times my works are accompanied by electric and electro mechanic equipment, which provide mobility, thus stressing the illusionary quality of the works."# Among the awards that González has received are the Premio Armando Reverón at the Salón Michelena (2002) and the Gran Premio at the Salón Nacional de Arte Aragua (2001). Her work is housed in national and international private collections as well as in museums and institutions, such as the Banco Mercantil and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Caracas and Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami. She lives and works in her native city of Caracas.

—Marcela Guerrero

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1982 Dibujos, Sala Mendoza, Caracas, Venezuela

1996 Ascensión, Venezuelan Center Gallery, New York

2002 Neurohilados, Galería Valu Oria, São Paulo

2006 Bichus Invasion, Signature Art Gallery, Miami

2009 Pelikan, Faria Fábregas Galería, Caracas, Venezuela

Selected Bibliography

Ar(t)s Feminae: November 14, 2002–January 9, 2003. Washington, DC: Mexican Cultural Institute, 2001.

"Mercedes Elena González." Abstraction in Action website. http://abstractioninaction.com/artists/mercedes-elena-gonzalez/.

Morillo Belloso, Soledad. Bitácora de una escribidora. Desert Hot Springs, CA: International Windmills Edition, 2010.

Rodríguez, Bélgica. "Mercedes Elena González." ArtNexus 41 (August–October 2001). http://www.artnexus.com/Notice_View.aspx?DocumentID=7395&lan=es&x=1.

Schoolman, Alexandra. "Imagining Spaces: Constructions in Color and Text." https://www.artforum.com/uploads/guide.003/id26141/press_release.pdf [PDF, 3 pp., 4 MB]