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Bio Summary

Teresa Burga - Artists - Alexander Gray Associates

Teresa Burga, 2019. Photo: Ross Collab

Teresa Burga (1935–2021) was born in Iquitos, Peru. A pioneer of Conceptualism in Latin America, Burga’s practice encompassed drawing, painting, sculpture, multimedia installations, and displays of analytical data and experimental research. She studied at the School of Visual Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and contributed significantly to the local avant-garde beginning in the mid-1960s. In 1966, Burga formed part of the group Arte Nuevo (New Art Group), a collective of artists dedicated to advancing the genres of Pop, minimalism, Op Art, and happenings in Peru.

 

Biography

Teresa Burga (1935–2021) was born in Iquitos, Peru. A pioneer of Conceptualism in Latin America, Burga’s practice encompassed drawing, painting, sculpture, and displays of analytical data and experimental research. She studied at the School of Visual Arts at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and contributed significantly to the local avant-garde beginning in the mid-1960s. In 1966, Burga formed part of the group Arte Nuevo (New Art), a collective of artists dedicated to advancing the genres of Pop, minimalism, Op Art, and happenings in Peru.

Burga’s figurative paintings and works on paper incorporate mass media iconography and commercial aesthetics into psychically charged compositions, often focused on women and accompanied by bold, colorful geometric patterns. Questioning traditional artistic authorship, in 1968 she devised a series of reconfigurable sculptures emblazoned with graphic signs and recognizable icons, which were meant to be produced by anyone following schematic diagrams and rearranged according to play and chance.

Traveling to the United States in 1968 on a Fulbright scholarship, Burga studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, she began to incorporate data sets and photographic documentation into her work. In other projects, like Pictures With a Limited Time (1970) and Work That Disappears When the Spectator Tries to Approach It (1970), Burga proposed immersive situations in which spectators activate the environment through the use of their own bodies.

In 1971, Burga returned to an authoritarian Peru, under the military rule of Juan Velasco Alvarado. Facing a repressive regime which did not favor Conceptual art, she pursued a career in Peru’s General Customs Office, where she worked as an official for three decades, designing solutions to enhance administrative efficiency in digital information systems. Burga continued to make work that reflected the sociopolitical realities of the country: in particular, how standardized, regulated, and bureaucratic systems function as apparatuses for control and oppression––most saliently for women. Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe, 9.6.1972 (1972), for example, consists of a thorough portrait of Burga’s own body illustrated through medical reports, an audio simulation of her heartbeat, photographs, and various diagrams outlining biological data. Following a similar conceptual vein, in 1980 Burga developed Perfil de la muter Peruana (Profile of the Peruvian Woman) (1980–81), an ambitious large-scale research project and installation. For the project, in collaboration with sociologist Marie-France Cathelat, Burga interviewed 290 women in Lima and recorded statistical data about their height, weight, religious identities, and political affiliations, among other categories, and displayed the findings using conceptual visual representations like a mannequin, a jigsaw puzzle, and various drawings.

In later series of works on paper, Burga affirmed her commitment to the destabilization of ubiquitous and singular authorship by appropriating subject matter from newspaper clippings and children’s drawings. As she explained, “I want to escape from the artist’s taste and from subjective self-abstraction, because the worst thing an artist can do is to be self-complacent and please the public. I’ve always believed that.”

Burga’s work was the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions, including La equilibrista (The Tightrope Walker), Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, German (2022), traveled to Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2022); Aleatory Structures, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2018), traveled to Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2019); An Artist or a Computer?, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Ghent, Belgium (2018); Mano Mal Dibujada, SculptureCenter, Queens, NY (2017); Estructuras de aire, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina (2015); Die Chronologie der Teresa Burga. Berichte, Diagramme, Intervalle. 29.9.11, Württembergischen Kunstvereins Stuttgart, Germany (2011); Informes. Esquemas. Intervalos. 17.9.10., Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA), Lima, Peru (2010); and Cuatro Mensajes, Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA), Lima, Peru (1974), among others. She has also participated in many group shows, including Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2017), traveled to the Brooklyn Museum, NY (2018) and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil (2018); Memories of Underdevelopment: Art and the Decolonial Turn in Latin America, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA (2017), traveled to Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2018); 56th Venice Biennale, All the World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Italy (2015); The New Contemporary, Art Institute of Chicago, IL (2015); The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2015); and the 12th Instanbul Biennial, Turkey (2011), among others.

Burga’s work is featured in collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina; Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), Lima, Peru; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA), Belgium; Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy; and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection, Vienna, Austria, among others. The Estate of Teresa Burga is also represented by Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany.

Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Collection Hochschild, Lima, Peru
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland
Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina
Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), Lima, Peru
Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA), Antwerp, Belgium
Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy
Sammlung Verbund Collection, Vienna, Austria
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection, Vienna, Austria

Teresa Burga: Aleatory Structures, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2018)

Teresa Burga: Aleatory Structures, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2018)

Teresa Burga designs the Tenth Anniversary logo of MATE- Museo Mario Testino, Peru (2017),  

Teresa Burga designs the Tenth Anniversary logo of MATE- Museo Mario Testino, Peru (2017)

 
Teresa Burga interview with ARTLOAD (2016)

Teresa Burga interview with ARTLOAD (2016)

Teresa Burga: Estructuras de Aire, Museo MALBA (2015)

Teresa Burga: Estructuras de Aire, Museo MALBA (2015)