Most Influential People2019

Luchita Hurtado

By Hans Ulrich Obrist
Painter Luchita Hurtado► Watch
Oresti Tsonopoulos

I first met Luchita Hurtado in 2017 and was immediately impressed by the range and depth of her visionary artistic practice and her ever amazing energy. Born in 1920, Luchita has worked as a painter for nearly 80 years, but her exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries this summer will be the first museum retrospective of her work. Revered by many artists, Luchita was connected through friendship and family to specific movements like Surrealism, the Dynaton movement and magical realism, but she maintained her unique practice in private, rarely exhibiting her work. Now, at the age of 98, Luchita is finally getting the attention she has long deserved.

Her vision of the human body as a part of the world, not separate from nature, is more urgent today than ever. Luchita’s masterly oeuvre offers an extraordinary perspective that focuses attention on the edges of our bodies and the language that we use to bridge the gap between ourselves and others. By coupling intimate gestures of the body with expansive views of the sky and the earth, Luchita maps a visceral connective tissue between us all.

Besides her painting, Luchita also made contributions to photography with her shadows series and to fashion by designing her own clothes for many decades. There is Luchita the poet, and Luchita thinking as an ecologist and activist. As Luchita told me, “I never said no to life. I have a responsibility to the world, to my planet.”

Obrist is the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries