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b. 1975, San Juan Nepomuceno, Colombia
Gabriel Sierra was born in San Juan Nepomuceno, Colombia, in 1975. He studied industrial design at Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Bogotá, from 1994 to 2000, and has completed residencies with Cer Modern, Ankara, Turkey, and Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (both 2012). Employing the languages of design and architecture, Sierra’s work challenges the rules of functionality and engages ideas of community, habitat, and urbanism.
Sierra’s large-scale wood sculptures, such as those in the series Structures for Transition (Estructuras para Transición, 2008), fill and transform the spaces in which they are exhibited. While this aligns them with the formal legacy of Minimalism, the artist’s use of a familiar natural material and seemingly fragile structures also allows for a questioning of other artistic and aesthetic conventions. For Untitled (The Day as a Hole in the Middle of the Night), for example, made for the 2011 Lyon Biennial, Sierra cut out a large section of a room’s wooden floor and suspended it from the ceiling, lending it the appearance of a giant box lid. This simple but drastic operation appeared to defy the laws of both function and gravity. A formal deconstruction of the architectural space, it revealed parts of the gallery customarily hidden from view, thereby offering a metaphorical critique of the exhibition’s venue.
For Untitled (111.111.111 x 111.111.111 = 12345678987654321), made for the 2013 Carnegie International, Sierra intervened in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Architecture, which houses examples of classical sculpture and casts of architectural columns, through the simple gesture of painting its walls and furniture bright purple. This color choice was made in response to the artist’s research on the history of purple in antiquity, in particular its association with power, and the subsequent loss of this significance during the Middle Ages. The other component of Sierra’s project was a series of wood structures, also painted purple, which were integrated with the room’s existing pedestals. In this way, Sierra’s visual adjustment emphasized formal continuities between history and contemporaneity, and between the cast as reproduction and art history as constructed narrative.
Sierra has had solo exhibitions at the Centre d’Art Contemporain de Brétigny, Brétigny-sur-Orge, France (2006); Galería Casas Reigner, Bogotá (2008); Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo (2010); Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna (2011); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2012); Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco (2012); and Peep-Hole, Milan (2013). Notable group exhibitions include Panamericana, Kurimanzutto, Mexico City, and Living Under the Same Roof, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (both 2010); as well as Do It (Outside), Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, and When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (both 2013). His work was also included in the Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2009); São Paulo Biennial (2009); San Juan Triennial (2009); Istanbul Biennial (2011); Lyon Biennial (2011); Shanghai Biennale (2012); New Museum Triennial: The Ungovernables, New York (2012); and Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2013). He received the Cisneros Fontanals Foundation Grant in 2010. Sierra lives and works in Bogotá.