Drawing from his experiences living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 70’s, and also in Europe in the late 90’s, Enrique Chagoya juxtaposes secular, popular, and religious symbols in order to address the ongoing cultural clash between the United States, Latin America and the world as well. He uses familiar pop icons to create deceptively friendly points of entry for the discussion of complex issues. Through these seemingly harmless characters Chagoya examines the recurring subject of colonialism and oppression that continues to riddle contemporary American foreign policy.
Chagoya was born and raised in Mexico City. His father, a bank employee by day and artist by night, encouraged his interest in art by teaching Chagoya color theory and how to sketch at a very early age. As a young adult, Chagoya enrolled in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he studied political economy and contributed political cartoons to union newsletters. He relocated to Veracruz and directed a team focused on rural-development projects, a time he describes as “an incredible growing experience…[that] made me form strong views on what was happening outside in the world.” This growing political awareness would later surface in Chagoya’s art. At age 26, Chagoya moved to Berkeley, California and began working as a free-lance illustrator and graphic designer. Disheartened by what he considered to be the narrow political scope of economics programs in local colleges, Chagoya turned his interests to art. He enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute, where he earned a BFA in printmaking in 1984. He then pursued his MA and MFA at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1987. He moved to San Francisco in 1995. He has been exhibitng his work nationally and internationally for over two decades with a major retrospective organized by the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa in 2007 that traveled to UC Berkelye Art Museum and to the Palms Spring Art Museum in 2008 ( fully illustrated bilingual catalog was published). In the Fall of 2013, a major survey of his work opened at Centro Museum ARTIUM, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital city of the Basque Country, near Bilbao, Spain (with a trilingual catalog documenting the exhibition). The exhibition traveled to the CAAM in the Canary Islands in early 2015.
Later in 2015 the traveling print component from his retrospective Palimpsesto Canibal opened at Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca IAGO, and traveled to the Museo Nacional de la Estampa MUNAE in Mexico City in the winter of 2016. The same year he had a solo exhibition of paintings and works on paper Recent Work by Enrique Chagoya at Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco, California. In 2017 he was included in an exhibiton of American Pop art that opened in the winter at the British Museum in London, and in the fall he opened an survey of his prints at the McIninch Art Gallery at the Southern New Hampshire University.
In January 2018 he opened a survey of paintings, drawings and prints Aliens Sans Frontières at Marion Gallery at New York State University in Fredonia, NY, and in March an exhibition of new works Prints and Multiples by Enrique Chagoya at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, NV. In April opened a solo exhibition of Paintings and works on paper the George Adams Gallery in NYC.
In 2019 he had two solo exhibitions, Everyone is an Alienígeno at Florida Gulf Coast University Art Gallery, Fort Meyers, FL; Detention at the Border of Language Survey of prints, paintings drawings and multiples at the Coulter Gallery, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; He also was in a group exhibition Eye to I: Selfportraits From 1900 to Today at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, through June 2019.
In 2020 he had two solo exhibitions, Detention at the Border of Language at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, CA, and The Seven Deadly Sins/Utopías Coloniales recent work done during shelter in place at Anglimh/Trimble Gallery in San Francisco, CA (October-December). A group exhibition (online due to Covid-19) (Re)Print: Five Print Projects at the International Print Center in New York, NY.
In 2021 he was included in the exhibition Printing the Revolution! At the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington. In the fall he opened a survey of his codices and artists books Borderless at the California Palace of the Legion Art Museum in San Francisco, and a two person exhibition Double Trouble with artist Kara Maria, at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.
In 2022 an exhibiton of his codices Detention at the Border of Language opened at Edgewood College Gallery in Madison, WI. In the fall he is scheduled to have a solo exhibition at George Adams Gallery in New York, NY
A recent monograph “Alien”s was released in 2019, published by Kelly’s Cove in Berkeley, California.
He is currently Full Professor at Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History and his work can be found in many public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco among others. He has been recipient of numerous awards such as two NEA artists fellowships, one more from the National Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, residencies at Giverny and Cite Internationale des Arts in France, a Tiffany fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Life Time Achievement Award by the Southern Graphics Council International, mention a few. He was induced to the National Academy of Design, NYC, in 2021.
He is represented by Anglim/Trimble Gallery in San Francisco, George Adams Gallery in New York, and Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix, AZ. His prints are published by Shark’s Ink in Lyons, Co, Electric Works in San Francisco, CA, Magnolia Editions in Oakland, CA, and ULAE Bay Shore, NY.