Alejandro Diaz began his artistic career by making and selling his signature cardboard signs he called “Mexican Wallpaper”. Since then, he has expanded and elaborated on his commentary of contemporary consumer culture through his use of everyday material. Incorporating signage, glitter, cardboard, cookies and postcards, he questions the divisions between high and low art by intermingling their conventions. His provocative and pertinent body of work exemplifies the complex and visually rich cultural milieu particular to South Texas and Mexico. Diaz is known for his conceptual, recurrent use of everyday materials; his humor infused politics; and his ongoing involvement with art as a form of entertainment, activism, public intervention and free enterprise.
Diaz’s conceptual, campy and political cardboard signs- which he began making and selling on the streets of Manhattan in the late 90s - are emblematic of his recurrent use of everyday materials, his humor infused politics, and his ongoing involvement with art as a form of entertainment, activism, public intervention, and free enterprise. The ongoing cardboard signs series continues to evolve with some of the sayings now being produced in neon.
In 2003, Diaz created a major installation for the Havana Biennial titled I (Heart) Cuba, an installation of free souvenir items (tote bags, beach balls, post cards) emblazoned with the artist’s twist on the familiar New York slogan. Creating a platform for free enterprise, the souvenir items were distributed to the local Cuban community who in turn sold them to the biennial attending public.
Winner of the “In the Public Realm” competition in 2005, he was commissioned by the Public Art Fund (New York’s premier presenter of public art) to create 4 large-scale sculptures / planters in the form of oversized grocery store Mexican canned products sited on the grand concourse in the Bronx (2005). Standing in for the process of assimilation, the Mexican products Diaz chose to replicate were ones that were rapidly becoming part of American mainstream culture.
Diaz was the recipient of the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 2007 and in the following year was selected to participate in a major group exhibition at LACMA, Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement. The exhibition traveled to Mexico City, Houston, San Antonio, and New York. He has had a solo project at the critically acclaimed Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT (2009) with additional solo exhibitions at Jessica Murray Projects, NY (2001), the RISD Museum of Art (2012), and the Linda Pace Foundation (2015).
In 2011 Diaz was commissioned to create a series of roadside billboards, a humorous sculpture of John Calvin for a public square, and a large-scale outdoor neon as part of the St. Moritz Art Masters in St. Moritz, Switzerland.