Wares between the archaic and mass-production
Luis Miguel Suro belongs on his father´s side to a family of craftsmen in Guadalajara in the Mexican state Jalisco and has adapted the tradition of ceramics to making sculptures and spatial installations in line with the aims of modern design. He increases the size of everyday items to make them more metaphorical and all his works, including those in other natural materials, allude ironically to current social problems.
Luis Miguel Suro was born in Guadalajara, whose suburbs Tonalá and Tlaquepaque have been renowned for pottery and craftsmanship from pre-Columbian times. He belongs to a family of craftsmen in ceramics but continues this tradition in a maverick way by using the age-old material differently and in new contexts. He also acts as an advisor to his father´s ceramics factory which has made works designed by the well known Cuban artist Jorge Pardo.
Apart from ceramics, used for series of big models, he also uses other materials. The model for which he won the Omnilife Prize in 2000 is made of cardboard on a wooden frame and is a life-size copy of camping shelters borne on lorries by homeless folk looking for work. The shelter "Caseta de Pick-Up 1" from the series "Viviendas móviles" shows the precarious conditions under which so many Mexican families have to live.
Suro´s ceramics are over-dimensional versions of computer equipment or other electronic gadgets. He has made, for instance, single ergonomically shaped keys and labelled them with words like MUTE, POWER, TALK, CANCEL, CLR and with signs like + and – and brackets or PANIC (series "Pull the Button"). This work was small but, in view of its metaphorical scope, lent its title to the whole exhibition, including ceramics made over a period of five years. Under the label "Daily Plagiarisms" he has produced further ceramic enlargements of everyday items like buttons on a remote control panel, cough-lozenges, ballpoint pens and car number-plates.
About another group of works – "Bancos" (1999), likewise in ceramics – Cynthia Nadelman has written: "He has given Mexican banks a not-so-gentle ribbing, first in a serious of bottomless piggy banks adorned with the logos of the country’s major financial institutions, and then when he created a nonworking ATM machine, installed last year \2000 in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan." Suro says about the second work that up to 30 people a day try to use what they think is a money-machine behind the entrance, whose glass door bearing the word "Cajero" he has designed. On realising that the machine is a fake, they curse the banks. Nadelman goes on: "In a country saturated with older traditions, the formative influence of a modern ceramics factory seems to have given Suro a heightened sensitivity toward the clashes and the connections between craft and the sleekly anonymous, mass-produced products of today" (ARTnews, April 2001).
In the exhibition "Zebra Crossing" the artist showed the spatial installation "Bureaucracy", whose 55 bales of hay make up the word itself. It was shown in Berlin without the contribution of his colleague Lebrija: "Gonzalo Lebrija and Luis Miguel Suro showed their work ´Bureaucracy/Three White Horses´, seen for the first time in England. It is a version of this word made up of bales of hay, to which Lebrija had added a photo, showing not only the hay but also three nags in the spirit of arte povera. This referred to the contrast between the pastoral idyll shown and the reality of life in the Mexican countryside, where the idylls are few and seldom in the form shown." (Eduardo Abaroa in the catalogue)
Author: Michael Nungesser
Luis Miguel Suro was born on 12th May 1972 in Guadalajara/Jalisco. His family owns the factory Cerámica Contemporánea, in which he has worked and which, on his own initiative, offers grants to artists. He studied drawing in Guadalajara in 1989, painting and art theory at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas and architecture at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in 1990-91, and took part in workshops in contemporary art theory at Corpus Callosum in El Callo and the Fundación de Arte Contemporáneo (FARCO) in 1994 and 1998.
He has won many grants to be an artist in residence, including in 1996 some from the Altos de Chavon Cultural Center Foundation, the Dominican Republic; the Ragdale Foundation and Lake Forest in Illinois; in 2001 some from the Braziers International Artist Workshop in Oxfordshire and the École Cantonale d’Art du Valais, Sierre, in Switzerland and in 2003 from the Art Omi International Artists´ Colony in Omi in New York. In 2000 Suro got the 1st prize for sculpture (Omnilife Prize) in Guadalajara and for the years 2000-2001 a grant for young artists from the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes in Mexico City.
Suro´s works are to be found in eminent private collections like the Colección Jumex in Mexico City, the Colección López Rocha in Guadalajara, the Patchet Collection in Los Angeles in California, the Goldberg Collection in New York and the Collection Mairlot in Brussels. In 2001 he held lectures with slides at the École Cantonale d’Art du Valais and at the F+F Schule für Kunst und Mediendesign in Zürich.
Luis Miguel Suro lives and works in Guadalajara.
Group Exhibitions (Choice)
Exhibition / Installation
"Soft Machos”, Pilar Parra & Romero Galería de Arte, Madrid, Spain
"So Far So Close: Contemporary Art From Guadalajara”, The Americas Society, New York, USA
"Significant Anomaly“, Scope Art Fair, New York, USA
"Mexica Report“, Blue Star Art Space, San Antonio, USA
"Piel Fria“, Mexican Cultural Institute, Paris, France
"TEKHNE“, The Buena Vista Building, Miami, USA
"SUMA 03“, Intl. Contemporary Art Museum Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
"Mexico Iluminated", Freedman Gallery Of Albright College Center for the Arts, Reading, Great Britain
"In the Absence of Recombination", Bronx River Art Center, New York, USA
"Eins zu Eins“, K3, Zurich, Switzland
"25 Hrs., Intl. Video Art Show“, The Video Art Foundation + UNXposed, Barcelona, Spain
"Trans-Figuration", Palazzo Mediceo, Seravezza, Lucca, Italy
"Espectacular“, Spain Cultural Center, Mexico City, Mexico
"Piel Fria“, Carrillo Gil Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico City, Mexico
"Zebra Crossing", House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
"Géneros en Transito", Méxican Cultural Institue, Paris, France
"Sauvage", La Panaderia, Mexico City, Mexico
"Sala de Recuperación", Carrillo Gil Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico City, Mexico
"Video Screenings", 291 Gallery, London, Great Britain
"Suma Pictorica", Museum of Art of the U de G, Guadalajara, Mexico
"The Pleasure Principle", EX-Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico
"3D", Sala Polivalente of the University of Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico
"Blown Away", Garth Clark Gallery, New York, USA
"Talleres", Mexican Cultural Institute, New York, USA
"Today and Everyday", Ramis Barquet Gallery, New York, USA
"Talleres", Track 16 Galley, Los Angeles, USA
"Seeing Money", Portland Old Town & Culture Foundation, Portland, USA
"En Busca de un Lugar No Conquistado", EX-Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico
"HIPER", Carrillo Gil Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico City, Mexico
"Pequeñas Criaturas", Cultural Institute Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico
"Art in Otro", Nina Menocal Gallery, Guadalajara, Mexico
"Bestias y Nahuales", S.H.C.P. Cultural Center, Mexico City, Mexico
"Sentimientos Encontrados", Corpus Callosum El Callo, Guadalajara, Mexico
"Salon de Octubre", Cultural Institute Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico
Solo Exhibitions (Choice)
Exhibition / Installation
"Gallos ¼ de Proyecto”, Museum of Science & Art of the U.NAM., Mexico City, Mexico
"PANIC", Ramis Barquet Gallery, Monterrey, Mexico
"BUREAUCRACY“, Programa Art Center, Mexico City, Mexico
"Plagios Cotidianos", GARA Art Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
"Pull the Button“, Venetia Kapernekas Fine Art Inc., New York, USA
"Fake ATM“, Zapopan Project, Guadalajara, Mexico
"Ceramics, Paintings and Drawings“, Leonora Vega Gallery, New York, USA
"Lo Que Resbala de la Almohada”, El Almazen de la Nave, Madrid, Spain