Mexico's Top 10 Contemporary Artists


Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) is a minor holiday in Mexico, but a big reason for Mexicans to celebrate their heritage and cultural pride in the United States. In recognition of the holiday, which commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of invading French forces in the 1860s, we’ve assembled an exciting mix of contemporary Mexican artists who are becoming world renowned. Rooted in folklore, social issues, and popular culture, these artists — ranging from Gabriel Orozco, who’s been canonized at MoMA, and Damián Ortega, a standout at London’s White Cube, to Julieta Aranda, a rising star who has tricked out the Guggenheim — turn the local into the conceptual for international appetites.

Dr. Lakra

A tattoo artist living in Oaxaca, Dr. Lakra alters magazine tear sheets of wrestlers and pin-up girls, as well as anatomical illustrations and found objects, with cartoon drawings that reference sex, death, demons, and historical themes.

Daniela Rossell

Photographing Mexico’s nouveau rich at home and at play, Daniela Rossell reveals an overabundant, kitsch lifestyle that resembles the fictional stuff of Mexican “telenovelas.”

Damián Ortega

A former political cartoonist, Damián Ortega likes finding humor in consumerism and social situations, such as deconstructing a Volkswagen Beetle, a symbol of Mexico’s dependence on a means of transportation that obsolete in the rest of the world.

Carlos Amorales

Drawing on the dark side of life, Carlos Amorales makes films, performance, installations, and works on paper overrun with spiders, blackbirds, and bats. Bringing the underbelly of nature indoors, Amorales creates metaphors for the evil that lurks around every corner.

Minerva Cuevas

Minerva Cuevas constructs social interactions that comment on and undermine corporate and government identities. A conceptual artist working in a variety of mediums, Cuevas is fearless in taking on the powers that be.

Gabriel Orozco

A jetsetter who divides his time between Paris, New York, and Mexico City, Gabriel Orozco transforms everyday objects into poetic symbols that touch on tradition, the ancient past, and contemporary life.

Julieta Aranda

An artist, curator, and creative protagonist, Julieta Aranda makes work about time, perception, and information that doesn’t always fit the parameters of what we define as art — which is why it’s both a challenge and delight to confront.

Yoshua Okon

A performance artist who works on the cinematographer’s side of the camera, Yoshua Okon stages public scenarios in which ordinary people act out his instructions to ironic ends.

Gabriel Kuri

Gabriel Kuri uses everyday purchases and found objects to make sculptures and collages that focus our attention on consumer culture and the circulation of money, information, and energy.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Combining elements of architecture, technology, and performance, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer makes interactive objects and installations that dynamically explore themes of perception, deception, and surveillance.