Drawing on both contemporary and ancient aesthetics and playing with the viewer’s understanding and expectations of the past and present, Enrique Chagoya’s work is a mordant and mischievous critique of the cultural, social, and political struggles raging across the two American continents. He often uses amate, a type of bark paper that has been manufactured in his native Mexico since before the arrival of the Spanish. It is associated with the ancient tradition of codices—book-like pictorial works that illustrate the histories of pre-colonial Central America.
As Chagoya has remarked, “I integrate diverse elements: from pre-Columbian mythology, Western religious iconography, ethnic stereotypes, ideological propaganda from various times and places, American popular culture, etc. Often, the result is a non-linear narrative with many possible interpretations.”
Chagoya holds a BFA in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. A professor at Stanford University, he shows nationally and internationally, including a 2007 retrospective organized by the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa which travelled to the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Palm Springs Art Museum, the 17th Biennale of Sydney, and a 2013 exhibition at the Centro Museum ARTIUM in the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) which went to the CAAM in the Canary Islands. His work is held in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, De Young Museum, LACMA, National Museum of American Art, Des Moines Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and New York Public Library.