By Alessia Peretti
At 98 years old, Venezuelan artist Lucida Hurtado has finally got her breakout moment, with a solo exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery.
Now based in Santa Monica, California, Hurtado has been painting for more than 70 years, but has only recently begun to get the acclaim many critics think she deserves.
Joseph Constable, curator of the “Luchita Hurtado: I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn” exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, said: “We decided to give her an exhibition now, due the striking layers of experimentation that mark her oeuvre, as well as the contemporary relevance of her work to issues such as our relationship to the environment and the realities of its destruction.”
Her paintings have variously been described as surrealist, magic surrealist and utopian.
Visual artist Patricia Bidi described herself as Hurtado’s “number one fan in the world”. Bidi said: “I have been inspired by her connection to nature. [Hurtado] says, ‘I have a responsibility to the world, I have a responsibility to my planet.’”
In her youth, Hurtado rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, such as Frida Kahlo and Marcel Duchamp, but she wasn’t “discovered” until the artistic director of the gallery, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, first discovered her work during a studio visit in 2017.
One year later, she came to critical attention worldwide as part of the group exhibition “Made in LA” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
One of Constable’s favourite works in the current show, which runs until 20 October, is a series called “Moth Lights” which the curator describes as “a group of 24 paintings arranged together that comprise formal experiments in depicting light on the canvas”.
The name derives from the artist’s interest in seeing whether moths would be attracted to the depiction of light in the same way as they are to flames or to electric light.