Pedro Reyes

Mexico 1972

Sculpture, Performance Art

Pedro Reyes
Pedro Reyes
March 19, 2015
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile:

Pedro Reyes is a Mexican artist that has been getting a lot of attention from the public for his pieces with strong messages and lessons for all of humanity to listen. He is troubled by the injustice and violence that torments both his country and the world as a whole, so Reyes tries to react and confront these problems. In his heart, Reyes is quite idealistic and that displays on his work more than anything – he romantically lives and works thinking of ways to improve our lives with nothing but his artistic expression. As if that was not impressive enough, Pedro Reyes is also a creative polyglot, involving himself in several mediums including sculpture, performance, music and painting.

Pedro Reyes - Disarm, Kalashniclock, 2013 - privacy policy for video in 2012, contact center
Pedro Reyes – Disarm, Kalashniclock, 2013

The Reasons Behind Reyes’s Work

Pedro Reyes was born in 1972. During his younger years, he attended classes at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, where he was mostly focusing on architecture, both on its history and the practical knowledge of building. However, Reyes’s affection lied in another traditional medium of art, closely related to architecture but quite a bit different as well – sculpture. This was the medium he eventually decided was the best choice for the goals he wanted to achieve through art. A few alterations in the sense of traditional sculpture had to be made, though, since Reyes was not satisfied with simply creating pieces out of stone or metal. Pedro demanded more both from himself and his pieces. To that end, he developed an approach much like the famous Arte Povera – an artistic movement that originated in Italy in the 1960s, combining aspects of conceptual, minimalist, and performance art. Reyes started using found materials and making sculptures out of them while conveying certain social and political messages. He would take an object like an assault rifle and transform it into something rather opposite to its original concept, like a violin. Reyes began using simple means and casual scenarios with goals of blending the realms of utopia and function, individual fantasies and collective aspirations. The real beginning of his career can be located back to when he established Torre De Los Vientos, an experimental project space in Mexico City which operated from 1996-2002. It was here he started creating his first pieces. The course of Pedro’s art was pretty much determined by his visionary nature – Reyes was and still is a strong believer in the good of mankind and was never able to deal with injustice. Seeing all the suffering his country is plagued by every day and having witnessed firsthand the many ways that technology has been used to cause war, destruction and misery, Reyes started turning tools of such tragedies on themselves and transform them into weapons of good. The goal was to raise awareness and redeem these technologies that are neither good nor bad by themselves – it all depends on how we use them. So ultimately, it is us who is in need of change and if we’re looking for someone to blame for all the world’s miseries, well, we should not search much further then the nearest mirror.

Here you can have a closer look at how Reyes thinks and works

Reyes’s Projects

The work of Pedro Reyes is conceptualized in a way that makes no sense if not presented to audiences. Without someone to see from what they are made of and to recognize the things they have become, the projects of this artist become utterly useless. They need someone to send their messages to, they demand to influence responses. Although he dedicated much effort into researching the ways of the architecture, Pedro Reyes turned out to be primarily a sculptor, with his practice incorporating theater, psychology and activism. There is always a deep meaning in every piece he makes, there is constantly a point he tries to get across. This is maybe the most obvious in his Palas por Pistolas, a project that saw him tackling guns and the problem they represent to his home country of Mexico. He tried to present an 180-degree spin for these weapons as he had them melted down and turned into shovels which will later be used for planting trees and plants! Inspired by a trip he took to the recycling plants where government officials turn seized weapons into raw materials, taken as part of that Shovels for Guns project, Reyes decided to turn these instruments of hate into literal instruments. Five years later, the Mexican government passed over 6,700 confiscated firearms for Reyes to turn into mechanical musical instruments, which are automated to play a delightful, if surreal loop, retaining the raw emotion of their origination. Not all of his pieces are as direct as these – some are like therapies of trust-building games that combat lighter first world problems, such as loneliness and stress. Other successful projects beside these with firearms are Pedro’s Baby Marx and Sanatorium. One of the biggest factors in Pedro’s work is the usage of space. He constantly explores new ways in which space is capable of allowing room for stronger interpretations. Interesting fact: besides the injustice, another great inspiration to Pedro Reyes’s art were the paintings of Francisco Goya.

Reyes explained that it’s all about the redemption of this metal that could have taken both his and your life

Pedro Reyes - Disarm, Violin-III-, 2013 - privacy policy for video in 2012, contact center
Pedro Reyes – Disarm, Violin-III-, 2013

Artistic Bravery

Pedro Reyes is one brave man and we do not just mean that in the sense his art goes to places none other dared exploring. This artist has been known to personally visit some of the most dangerous places in the world – such as the infamous Ciudad Juarez, the site of numerous gang murders and the chilling disappearing women unsolved mysteries – all with the goal of meeting problems of Mexico and trying to figure out artistic approaches for solving them. By doing so, Reyes has developed a whole arsenal – no pun intended – of terms and forms to release creativity from things that were never imagined for this kind of usage.

Pedro Reyes lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.

Featured Image: Pedro Reyes – Photo of the artist – Photo Credits Who Cares
All Images Photo Credits Pedro Reyes

YearName of the exhibitionMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2015Disarm (Mechanized)Turner Contemporary, Mexicosolo
2015pUNHammer Museum, Los Angeles, USAsolo
2014SanatoriumICA, Miami, USAsolo
2014SanatoriumThe Power Plant, Toronto, Canadasolo
2014Palas por PistolasFordham University, New York, USAsolo
2014StatuesLisson Gallery, Milan, Italysolo
2014Art or SoundFondazione Prada, Venezia, Italygroup
2014Ernesto Mallard u Pedro ReyesLabor, Mexicogroup
2014DIRGE: Reflections of [Life and] DeathMuseum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, USAgroup
2014Beijing BiennialBeijing, Chinagroup
2014Per-FormCA2M, Madrid, Spaingroup
2014CicloCentro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Brazilgroup
2013DisarmLisson Gallery, London, UKsolo
2013The People's UN (pUN)Queens Museum, New York, USAsolo
2013Audible ForcesGallery Exhibit 320, New Delhi, Indiagroup
2013Carnegie InternationalCarnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USAgroup
2013Melbourne FestivalMelbourne, Australiagroup
2013The People's UN (pUN)Queens Museum, New York, USAgroup
2013Spirit of UtopiaWhitechapel Art Gallery, London, UKgroup
2012RompecabezasLabor, Mexico Coty, Mexicosolo
2012EarArt in Embassies, SFAI, Tijuana, Mexicosolo
2012Melodrama and Other GamesLiverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UKgroup
2012ImagineGwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Koreagroup
2012Parque IndustrialGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, Brazilgroup
2012Sanatorium, Documenta13Kassel, Germanygroup
2012Art ParcoursArt Basel, Basel, CHgroup
2012UntitledIstanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkeygroup
2012KCCA Wattis Museum, San Francisco, CA, USAgroup
2012Zone of Contention: The US-Mexico BorderWeatherspoon Art Musuem, North Carolina, USAgroup
2012The Social ContractSTUK, Leuven, Belgiumgroup
2011Baby MarxWalker Art Center, MA, USAsolo
2011SanatoriumGuggenheim, NY, USA solo
2011The Great Architecture ChallengeThe Bronx Museum, NY, USAgroup
2011Living as FormCreative Time, NY, USAgroup
2010Art Basel ProjectsMiami Beach, USA solo
2010UGP: Urban Genome ProjectUCLG, Congress Local and Regional Leaders Summit, Mexico City, MX solo
2010UGP: Urban Genome ProjectArtissima, Torino, IT solo
2010Isla FlotanteCaletilla, Acapulco, MX solo
2010Map MarathonSerpentine Gallery, London, UK solo
2010babymarxLabor, Mexico City, MX solo
2010On the CommonsBanff Centre, Canadagroup
2010EpilogoMuseo de Arte de Zapopan, MXgroup
2010Primeira e ultimaGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BR group
2010The Tree: From the Sublime to the SocialKelowna Art Gallery, CA group
2010Nature en fetetown of Dinard, FRgroup
2010Biennial of the AmericasDenver, USA group
2010Modelos para armar. Pensar Latinoamerica desde la Coleccion MUSACMUSAC, Leon, ES group
2010In Lieu of UnityBallroom Marfa, Texas, USA group
2010Diseno RegenerativoMuseo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, MX group
2009Pedro ReyesCCA Kitakyushu, JPsolo
2009Los de arriba y los de abajoSala de Arte Publico Siqueiros, Mexico City, MX group
2009Bienal do MercosulPorto Alegre, BR group
2009Mamoyguara opa mamo pupe31° Panorama da Arte Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo, BR group
20091989 The end of the history or the beginning of the future? Kunsthalle Wien, ATgroup
2009Lyon BiennaleLyon, FRgroup
2009Mexico Expected-UnexpectedTEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, ESgroup
2009La invencion de lo cotidianoMuseo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, MX group
200847 undertakingsBass Museum, Miami, USA solo
2008Caracteres MobilesYvon Lambert, Paris, FR solo
2008Conflict ResolutionSan Francisco Art Institute, USA solo
2008Yokohama TriennaleYokohama, JPgroup
2008Expected-UnexpectedMaison Rouge, Paris, FR group
2008MashUpUSF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, USA group
2008Prospect 1 BiennialNew Orleans, USAgroup
2008Art Basel ProjectsBasel, CHgroup
2008Experiment Marathon IIReykjiavik Art Museum, FI group
2008The Tree: From the Sublime to the SocialVancouver Art Gallery, CAgroup
2008TlatelolcoThe New Museum NY, USA group
2007Vehiculo de Pasajeros a Propulsion HumanaGaleria Heinrich Erhardt, Madrid, ES solo
2007Principles of Social TopologyYvon Lambert Gallery, New York, USA solo
2007Principio de IncertidumbreForum de las Culturas, Monterrey, MX group
2007Viva MexicoZacheta Gallery, Warsow, PL group
2007Experiment Marathon ISerpentine Gallery, London, UK group
2007Viva la Muerte.Kunsthalle Wein, AT group
2007Everstill-SiempretodaviaFundacion Federico Garcia Lorca, Granada, ES group
2007Escultura SocialMuseum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA group
2007Elephant CementeryArtists Space, New York, USA group
2007Olympic Sculpture ParkSeattle Art Museum, USA group
2007Busan BiennaleSouth Koreagroup
2007Habitat - Variations Batiment d’art contemporainGeneve, CHgroup
2006Ad usum: To be UsedCarpenter Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USAsolo
2006ReciclonAspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA solo
2006DistorMuseo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexicogroup
2006Downtime, constructing leisureCalifornia Center for the Arts, USA group
2006Queremos Rock.Queen’s Nails Annex, San Francisco, USAgroup
2005Dream DigestorArnolfini, Bristol, UK solo
2005DeclaracionesCentro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, ES group
2005FarSites: Urban crisis and domestic symptoms in recent contemporary artInSite, San Diegogroup
2005Braunschweig ParcoursBraunschweig, Germanygroup
2005Morir de AmorMuseo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes, Mexico City, MX group
2005Mexico 70Casa del Lago, Mexico City, MX group
2004Nuevas Terapias GrupalesGaleria Enrique Guerrero, Mexico City, MX solo
2004PR04Puerto Ricogroup
2004EspecimenesMuseum of Natural History, Mexico City, MX group
2004Seattle Sculpture Park ProjectSeattle, USAgroup
2003StatementsArtBasel Miami Beach, USA solo
2003The Structure of Survival50th Venice Biennial, IT group
2003Fision-FusionMCI Institute, Washington, USAgroup
2003UnknownEshigo-Tsumari Trienalle group
2003To be political it has to look niceApex Art, NY, USA group
2003ModificationsMuseum of Natural History, Mexico City, MX group
2002Nomenclatura ArquimicaSala de Arte Publico Siqueiros, Mexico City, MX solo
2002InterplayThe Moore Space, Miami, USA group
2002Shanghai BiennaleShanghai, CNgroup
2002ThisplayLa Coleccion Jumex, Mexico City, MX group
2002The air is blueCasa-Museo Luis Barragan, Mexico City, MX group
200220 millions of Mexicans can’t be wrongSouth London Gallery, UKgroup
2001ABCDFMuseo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, MX group
2001Do ItMuseo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, MX group
200121 ZonasUxmal, Yucatan, MX group
20014x.Photo AlbumsMuseo de las Artes, Guadalajara, MX group
2000Jardines ColgantesLa Torre de los Vientos, Mexico City, MX solo
2000Metro Candelaria, Installation Mexico City’s subway station, MXgroup
2000Action videos by Latin American ArtistsArtists Space, NY, USA group
2000Punto CiegoArt & Idea Gallery, Mexico City, MX group
2000Infancias BotanicasJapan Foundation - Viveros de Coyoacan, Mexico City, MX group
1999Paradas continuasMuseo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, MX group
1998Domesticaprivate spaces at colonia Condesa, Mexico City, MX group
1997La resurreccion de San MartinSitu at Edificio San Martin, Mexico City, MX group
1997Sanar, installationAdvento, Tecalli, Pueblagroup
1997Bestias y Nahuales: Mascotas para un fin de sigloCentro Cultural de la SHCP, Mexico City, MX group