Danilo Dueñas (born 1956 in Cali, Colombia; lives and works in Berlin) works with found materials, used or unused, that he usually comes upon by want or need, driven by an extreme belief in the world around us. The artist subjects them to minimal or no treatment, before assembling them to create apparently fragile, yet expansive constructions. For the duration of an exhibition, the everyday objects are transferred to the art context, and are there filled with new life before they are returned to their original location.
In doing so, Dueñas always links his work to art history. The engagement with the Constructivists plays an important role here, as does his interest in Minimalist sculpture. In 2011, the artist layered pieces of white lacquered scrap aluminum on top of one another, at Berlin’s daadgalerie. With the title, At Actium and a tribute to John McCracken, he referred to a work by the American sculptor that he had seen at Hamburger Bahnhof. While McCracken was concerned with the perfect, flawless design of reflecting surfaces, Dueñas emphasizes the traces of imperfection left upon objects, for, despite his continuous engagement with formal issues, he always looks for direct links to real life. By no means does he want to conceal the remnants of usage on the objects in question, but instead expressly places importance on their singular quality like an impersonal or yet undefined history. In this way, he tries to avoid the severity and weight that he attributes to Minimalism, regardless of his great respect for its achievements.
Dueñas has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including group shows “Beuys y más allá: El enseñar como arte” at Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango in Bogota, “Correspondences: Contemporary Art from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros” at Wheaton College, Norton, USA, “Mesótica” at Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, San José, Costa Rica, and “Transatlántica” at Museo Alejandro Otero in Caracas. In recent years, he has held individual shows at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas (2003), as well as Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional, Bogotá (2001). Since 1990, Dueñas has taught at Universidad de los Andes, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. In 1999, he was awarded the Johnnie Walker Art Prize. In 2011/12, Dueñas was a guest of the Berlin artist’s program of DAAD.