American, Born 1953, Mexico City, Mexico
Lives in San Francisco, California
Drawing from his experiences living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 70’s, and also in Europe in the late 90’s, Enrique Chagoya juxtaposes secular, popular, and religious symbols in order to address the ongoing cultural clash between the United States, Latin America and the world as well. He uses familiar pop icons to create deceptively friendly points of entry for the discussion of complex issues. Through these seemingly harmless characters, Chagoya examines the recurring subject of colonialism and oppression that continues to riddle contemporary American foreign policy through what he calls reverse Anthropology.
Chagoya was born and raised in Mexico City. His father, a bank employee by day and artist by night, encouraged his interest in art by teaching Chagoya to sketch at a very early age. As a young adult, Chagoya enrolled in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he studied political economy and contributed political cartoons to union newsletters. He relocated to Veracruz and directed a team focused on rural-development projects, a time he describes as “an incredible growing experience…[that] made me form strong views on what was happening outside in the world.”1 This growing political awareness would later surface in Chagoya’s art. At age 24, he immigrated to the United States and settled in McAllen, Texas. After eight months working as a union organizer for farm workers, Chagoya moved to Berkeley, California and began working as a free-lance illustrator and graphic designer. Disheartened by what he considered to be the narrow political scope of economics programs in local colleges, Chagoya turned his interests to art. He enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute, where he earned a BFA in printmaking in 1984. He then pursued his MA and MFA at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1987. He directed the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco from 1987 to 1990. Then taught at UC Berkeley Art Department, and Cal State Hayward until 1995 when he joined the Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History where he is currently Full Professor. In 2007 the Des Moines Art Center organized an exhibition survey of his work from the last twenty five years that traveled to the Palms Springs Museum, and the UC Berkeley Art Museum. In 2010 his work was included in the 17th Biennial in Sydney, Australia
His work can be found in many public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco among others. He has been recipient of numerous awards such as two NEA artists fellowships, one more from the National Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, residencies at Giverny and Cite Internationale des Arts in France, and a Tiffany fellowship to mention a few.
He is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, George Adams Gallery in New York, and Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. His prints are published by Shark’s Ink in Lyons, Co, Electric Works in San Francisco, CA, Magnolia Editions in Oakland, CA, ULAE Bay Shore, NY, Segura Publishing in Pueblo, AZ, Trillium press in Brisbane, CA, Made in California in Oakland, CA, and Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto, CA
1 Enrique Chagoya quoted in Steven Nash, “Borders of the Spirit,” Triptych (October/November/December 1994) 24.