Jose Dávila received formal training in architecture at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudio Superiores de Occidente. Drawing on his training as an architect and his knowledge of art history, Dávila creates sculptural installations, photographic works and paintings that simultaneously emulate, critique, and pay homage to 20th century avant-garde art and architecture. Throughout his artistic career, Dávila’s practice has explored spatial occupation and the transitory nature of physical structures. Referencing artists and architects from Luis Barragán and Mathias Goeritz to Josef Albers and Donald Judd, Dávila’s work investigates the expanded possibilities of the modernist movement through its translation, appropriation, and reinvention.
Dávila is widely celebrated for his sculpture and public installation practice. In his sculptures, Dávila employs industrial and quotidian materials to make simultaneously humorous and critical reference to Modernist masterworks of art and design. In these works, materials are held in semiotic and structural tension – balanced both between high and low culture, and between permanence and collapse. Employing gravity and chance as materials, Dávila’s carefully arranged, and precariously balanced works expand the conventions of historical forms, and test the limits of the medium of sculpture. In 2017, the Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) presented a mid-career survey of Dávila’s work alongside a newly commissioned sculptural project which installed works by Dávila in a number of sites across Los Angeles. Dávila has also presented public sculpture in San Jacinto Park, Guadalajara; Rockefeller Plaza, New York; and Regent’s Park, London, among other locations. In 2019, Dávila presented a large-scale public installation, Los Límites de lo Posible, at the Malécon Habanero, in Havana, Cuba as a part of the XIII Bienal de La Habana.
Jose Dávila has presented solo exhibitions at the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, Switzerland; the Dallas Contemporary, Texas; the Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City; and the Museo del Novecento, Florence, amongst others. His work is in the permanent collection of numerous institutions including the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City, Mexico; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil; the Perez Art Museum, Miami, Florida; the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo, New York; the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hamburg Kunsthalle, Hamburg; the Zabludowicz Collection, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg. Dávila was the winner of the 2016 BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art’s New Annual Artists’ Award, the 2014 EFG ArtNexus Latin America Art Award, and has been the recipient of support from the Andy Warhol Foundation, a Kunstwerke residency in Berlin, and the National Grant for young artists by the Mexican Arts Council (FONCA) in 2000. In 2022, Hatje Cantz published a major monograph illustrating the past twenty years of Davila’s practice.
Jose Dávila currently lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico.
SCAD President Paula Wallace Interviews Artist Jose Dávila, Savannah College of Art and Design, March 3, 2017
"The Stranger, The Stranger and The Stranger" by Jose Dávila, Nowness, May 27, 2014