Jorge Pardo

Year and place of birth: 1963, Havana, Cuba Location: Mérida, Mexico

Pardo blurs the boundaries between art, design, architecture, cutting-edge technology, local craftsmanship and life itself. He likes to cause categories to collide without supplying answers and forces us to change our usual approach. His oeuvre is brightly coloured and multiform. He sees himself as a sculptor who appropriates the language of different disciplines and works from the foundations of sculpture and installation art. His practice calls to mind Richard Artschwager and Andrea Zittel. Pardo is affiliated with the modernism of the Bauhaus, the Russian constructivists and the American modern architecture of the twentieth century, albeit in a more organic style.

Jorge Pardo emigrated from Havana to Chicago in 1969. He studied biology in the city from 1982 to 1984, before his local painting tutor recognised his talent and encouraged him to enrol at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Pardo achieved his bachelor’s degree and staged his first solo exhibition in 1988. Using pinhole cameras, he recorded images of his surroundings and integrated them into refashioned second-hand furniture and new pieces. His breakthrough came in 1993. Pardo responded to an invitation to stage an exhibition at MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles by building a house nearby and exhibiting a selection of artworks from the museum collection. He personally constructed and executed every aspect of the presentation: from hand-blown lamps, pieces of furniture, tiles and kitchen cabinets to garden landscaping. It became a sculpture that also functioned as a house, into which he subsequently moved.

Pardo became an important trendsetter and developed a model for taking a radical new look at objects from disparate worlds. Not only did he tackle houses, but also bookshops, lobbies and museum halls. In 2008 he built ‘House’, the home in Mérida, Mexico, where he has been living part time ever since. From 2007 to 2013, he was commissioned to develop the housing project ‘Tecoh’ in the Yucatán jungle. Atop the ruins of a seventeenth-century hacienda he built houses, gardens, paths, swimming pools and water features in which he combined elements from Maya culture and local craftsmanship with high-tech design. Pardo operates not as an architect but as an artist, which does not prevent his art from being more about experiencing a lifestyle than about cultural content.

Become a Friend of S.M.A.K.
made by