Hugo Montoya

It's Like I Never Wrote a Poem

Organized by Nathaniel Hitchcock

Liberal Arts Roxbury, Roxbury, NY
December 2021 - January 2022

Hugo Montoya (b. 1975) is a Bolivian-American artist living and working between Mexico City and the Catskills, New York. His friend and colleague, Miami-based artist Domingo Castillo, recently described Montoya’s sculptural constructions composed entirely of found objects as poetry in its own right. Montoya’s work, while not text-based, maintains a distinct, yet open visual syntax. He employs combinations, stacks and conjoinings to draw meaning out of commonly discarded artifacts of contemporary culture.

Montoya finds a rhythm in the detritus of forgotten or out of fashion design. The commonalities in their forms and dimensions, which he addresses through chimerical constructions, are fitted together with an uncanny humor. The material and the most obvious theme within Montoya’s practice is precarity. The objects he uses are rarely altered (if at all, as in his most recent works); the connections that hold them are shaky at best. Stacking is his most common strategy, with gravity the only force holding them together. The works appear causally: if someone were to walk into the gallery just after a piece had toppled over, they might not recognize that an artwork had been present in the space to begin with. 

Montoya searches in second-hand shops, online marketplaces, or finds his materials on the side of the road. The materials alone are invisible, their visual language is so familiar that they are often forgotten or overlooked. On their own, they form common and ubiquitous, idiosyncratic gestures, and sometimes suggest corporate misreadings of high Modernism, being designed to accommodate a material’s handling by machines. They are the noise of mass production, of overproduction—easily interpreted and digestible. The ordinariness often elicits an immediate and ambivalent judgment by anyone seeing them. Montoya’s assemblages forestall the viewer’s judgment. His reorientation of common, overly-familiar objects distances the viewer and renders them strange. The slightest shift of position or association in his compositions jostles the viewer out of their usual mode of looking. Montoya’s sculptures are simultaneously transparent and opaque in their construction. The balancing act performed by each work is concise, be it a stack or a fitting, its precarity belying any imagined efficiency of design. The connections holding his sculptures together are counterintuitive. Even as the work relies on it, their fragility defies gravity, and with the same momentum it thwarts expectations of taste and beauty.

Hugo Montoya is a Bolivian-American artist based between Mexico City and the Catskills, New York. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Emerson Dorsch, Miami; Big Pictures, Los Angeles; Guccivuitton, Miami; and David Castillo Gallery, Miami. His works have been included in group exhibitions at Good Weather Gallery/Parque, Mexico City; the ICA, Miami; and David Castillo Gallery, Miami. His work has been exhibited at Material Art Fair, Mexico City; and UNTITLED Miami Beach.

His solo exhibition at Et al. Gallery, San Francisco, is scheduled to open in January, 2022, coinciding with FOG Design+Art.