When Clotilde Jiménez describes his artistic practice as a matter of necessity, he’s not talking about a compulsive desire to create. Everything to do with his work—his expressive use of collage and sculpture, the subjects he focuses on, even his very commitment to art—came about because there was simply no other option.
“I entered visual art through an ultimatum,” Jiménez told Artsy. “I grew up in Philadelphia, in a low-income area, and the school in my area was really bad. My mom did some research and found this new school for architecture and design, and they had a program for at-risk youth. She said, ‘Look, this is your only way to not end up like everyone else. If you go [to the other school], you’ll get into trouble.’ And I applied.”
It’s a fitting origin story for an artistic practice centered on the continuous construction and excavation of the self. Jiménez, who is based in Mexico City, recently closed his debut solo exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago, “The Contest,” his first solo show since a 2018 exhibition with Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle. In striking sculptures and collages, he combines visions of boxers and bodybuilders, family and physicality, and queerness and Blackness into explorations of the patchwork nature of his identity.