(This text was originally published at The International Museum of Women, March 2014)
Born in Chile in 1967, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra grew up under the dictatorship of General Pinochet. From this chapter of Chilean political history and her personal experiences, she developed personal work through a combination of elements that gave rise to non-linear narratives; they appear ecstatic, traumatic, and surreal all at once. Sexuality, popular culture, and death are recurring motifs in her works, which allude to melancholy dreams and apparitions creating and overlapping each other, interlacing a poetic achieved through an austerity of media.
These fictions — created from a combination of real facts and memories confronted with elements drawn from popular culture, mythology, and literature — form a tapestry of figures isolated that embody a richness of meanings. These are passages between the dreams and the evocation, where a web of ideas, associations, and hidden stories seem to envelop figures of a magic shape that avoid falling into the abyss.
Sandra Vásquez de la Horra produces drawings on small pieces of paper, employing color pencil and watercolors, followed by the application of a wax bath and a transparent film that provides protection and permanence to each piece. Her work is informed by film, fairy tales, and botanical and zoological textbooks.
Her drawing is concise and made from fluid lines that create personages on a neutral background. In this space, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra often writes words in Spanish, English, and German, with delicate touches of color that show a fragment of the narrative that enhance or complicate the iconography.
Her mysterious and intimate works suggest the influence of Surrealism, Dada, and Francisco Goya’s phantasmagoria. The sober figures and the austere monochromatic of the composition reflect a language based on the texture pattern, typography, and the accumulation. Despite this, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra’s works are fully autonomous and have a very unique and clear sense of their own characteristics, compressing and inventing new territories.
Vásquez de la Horra’s work is part of various public and private collections. It has been exhibited at the Oldenburger Kunstverein, Germany (2012), the Musée d’Art Moderne, St-Etienne (2011), the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (2010), the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011, 2009), and the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (2008). The artist was awarded the prestigious Guerlain Prize in 2009. In 2012, she participated in “La Inminencia de las Poéticas” at the 30th São Paulo Biennial.