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Hombres Pintados, Beard (Painted Men, Barba) by Monica       Castillo

Red Face by Monica       Castillo

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Monica Castillo

Red Face by Monica       Castillo


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Mónica Castillo
(b. Mexico City, 1961; lives and works in Mexico City and New York).

Since 1993, this Mexican artist has been making portraits of herself, and most recently of others, has led her to the examination of the female self portrait tradition in Mexico, as well other Conceptualist ideas. Unlike the celebrated painted biographical testimonies of mejicanas like Frida Kahlo, Castillo’s work undermines the assumption that portraits inherently contain some sort of psychological revelation. She makes impersonal studies, of herself and her sitters that impede viewers from easily interpreting them and assigning an inner revelation. It is both a challenge to the tradition of portraiture, and the artificiality of its representation, as well as the Hispano-Catholic legacy of transcendental spirituality. Her influences include the German tradition of topological photography as well the interest in the use of materials in conveying meaning, in particular in relation to the body. She says: "The challenge was to represent a self-portrait that wouldn’t be charged with this metaphorical content. When you look at a self-portrait you automatically think that the artist’s face is the artist’s inner life. I did that for seven years, and now I feel that I’m out of that because it got to the point where I realized that the portrait itself has so much meaning that I wouldn’t be able to find a way out of it..."

Castillo studied painting under Guillermo Meza. She continued her studies from 1978-79 at the Sculoa Germanica in Rome, from 1979-80 at the Freie Kunstschule in Stuttgart, and from 1979-85 at the academy there under Rudolf Naegele, receiving a grant from the German government from 1983-85. From 1986-91 she belonged, together with Francisco Fernández (Taca), Claudia Hernández, Ruben Ortiz, Héctor and Nestor QuiƱones as well as Diego Toledo to the art-group La QuiƱonera near Mexico City.

In this 2001 interview curator Bill Kelley Jr speaks with Castillo in her New York studio about the genre of portraiture and her interest in image, representation and painting processes.

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