Claudio Dicochea | the artist

The artist Claudio Dicochea
Born 1971, San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico.
Lives and works in Phoenix, USA.

Style and technique of the artist: Painting, Sydney Biennale,

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Claudio Dicochea and Adriana Gallego
The current work is a series of contemporary caste or “casta” paintings. Casta painting was popularized as a genre during the 18th century in colonial-Mexico. Originally meant to record the racial mixing taking place in the New World, these paintings came in sets that depicted different families from lightest-skinned to darkest-skinned, very much like a table of elements. The darker-skinned the parents were, however, the more socially and biologically degenerate the child
was considered, making racial cross-breeding a real problem in the Euro-colonialist project of empire-building. Still, miscegenation between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans was common in the early Americas, though not always consensual. Mestizaje, as well as the concept of “mixed races,” were born from this. In response to these developments in cross-racialization, Spaniards created taxonomic hierarchies to organize the new colonial social structure. Paintings were commissioned to illustrate and explain the new classificatory scheme. Their primary audience was European…

Claudio Dicochea
Dicochea’s frenetic pop interpretations are unrepentant in their investigation of modern- day successors to the strange cultural obsessions illustrated in the original casta paintings. But rather than being an art historical critique of 18th century tropes, Dicochea’s work instead takes on distinctly 21st century concerns with gender, race and class—that all-powerful trifecta that Dicochea succinctly rephrases as “blood, money and sex—the great themes that inform my work.”

Claudio Dicochea
His painting today continues in a hybrid mode, with Disney characters and Norteño balladeers cohabiting in a Pop-Abstract world of high-low art. Drawing and cartoon transfers are placed on the sheet like collectible toys on a shelf, but don’t confuse these tableaux with facile repetition. Encoded within the play of all- too-familiar stereotypes and candy colors are not only the artist’s childhood memories but a meditation on art’s culpability in the construction of racial classification, a process that ran in tandem with the mixing of peoples after 1492…

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