Bold and arresting, the artworks created by Damián Ortega transform simple objects into masterpieces. A former political cartoonist, the Mexican artist’s conceptual work and large-scale installations feature a blend of wit and mischief. And they also include subtle and not-so-subtle social, cultural and political references. In one of his most famous artworks, Cosmic Thing (2002), Ortega took apart a 1989 Volkswagen Beetle and reassembled the pieces in a fascinating installation. Developed in Nazi Germany and now produced on a large scale in Mexico, the Beetle became a popular vehicle worldwide. The artist alludes here to its past. Suspended by wires, the components float in mid-air. They look like an illustration in a mechanic’s manual but also resemble a cosmic event or even a dissection.
Similarly, Controller of the Universe (2007) displays a complex composition. Numerous hand tools hang from the ceiling in a static yet dynamic installation that includes an empty space in the center. Here, the human urge to shape the natural world gives the ‘exploding’ pieces a powerful meaning. Distinctive and intriguing, the artworks explore sophisticated relationships in a cleverly simple way. Beyond their visual power, they give viewers plenty of food for thought. Photo credits: Damián Ortega.