Sandra Vásquez de la Horra at ARCO MADRID 2022

The galleries Senda (Barcelona), Bendana-Pinel (Paris) and Patricia Ready (Santiago de Chile) are each showing exhibitions by the Berlin-based Chilean artist.

Sandra Vásquez de la Horra. Photo: Cordia Schlegelmilch.
Sandra Vásquez de la Horra. Photo: Cordia Schlegelmilch.


“The artist, who was born in Chile in 1967 and now works in Berlin, is one of the most outstanding contemporary cartoonists. Her completely independent poetics and deeply moving imagery stem from her personal experience, rooted in the traditions and myths of her Chilean origins, but also drawing from the sources of European cultural history. De la Horra’s drawings deal with borderline experiences, femininity, fear and death, but also poetry. His subject matter goes far beyond the episodic to capture primordial human experiences”. So said the jury of the Hans Theo Richter Prize 2021, awarded last September by the Saxon Academy of Arts to Sandra Vásquez de la Horra for her significant achievements in the visual arts.

Now, with this honour in her career, Sandra Vásquez returns to ARCO, Madrid’s contemporary art fair par excellence, with her work present in not just one, not just two, but three galleries.



In this “solo project” of the Barcelona gallery, Vásquez de la Horra focuses his attention on the figure of the woman as a source of life-creating energy. Through unconventional supports and making use of three-dimensionality, Sandra transports us by means of her characteristic dark imagery and mystical poeticism to worlds that aim at both artistic and social subversion. Femininity is presented as the starting point of any entity in a close bond with mother Earth and her fertility. Her arms, which open in a warm and familiar gesture of embrace, hide the nature that we all carry within us: that undeniable and intrinsic feminine part that human beings possess by the mere fact of being born.

“Soy Sol, Soy Luna, Soy Mar

“I am Sun, I am Moon, I am Sea:” The woman, in each of her phases, is linked to Mother Earth in the natural and organic cycle of everything biological and brings that spiritual connection that evokes the artist’s Chilean culture and roots, where the human-natural alignment is essential for personal fulfilment.



For its part, the Paris-based gallery presents a selection of works by the artist that function as a small retrospective of her career: violence, persecution and sexual abjection; religion, superstition and myth and her experience of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Human and bestial figures drawn in pencil on paper, which the artist then dips in melted beeswax to achieve a timeless patina, often accompanied by phrases written in Spanish, English, or German, which are often the title of the works. Vásquez de la Horra’s mysterious and intimate works suggest the influence of surrealism, Dadaism, and the phantasmagoria of Francisco de Goya (derived from a kind of “magic lantern” show, in which images of skeletons, demons, and ghosts were projected onto walls).



Among the works presented by Vásquez de la Horra at the gallery in her native country are her Leporellos, drawings on folded paper; delicate screens pierced by light, which give volume to the paper, revealing different bodies, densities and transparencies, which progressively merge until they enter a new objectual space. There is in these works a profound reflection on the transformation, not only of drawing as three-dimensional matter, but rather of that other matter that subsists in human life; that transmutation of life and death.

Vásquez de la Horra’s next stop will be at the Venice Biennale next April. Under the title ‘The Milk of Dreams’, the most important art event in the world will pay homage to the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington.

(With information from the respective galleries)