Bogotá, Colombia, 1959
He originally studied medicine, a theme which would later reappear in several of his works, such as Terebra and Quiasma. In 1981 he shifted to the School of Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Bogotá. From 1982 to 1985 he continued his studies at the École des Beaux Arts in París. In Paris he had personal contact with theorists like Deleuze and Foucault, whose approaches interested him greatly. He also became familiar with the work of emblematic video artists like Bill Viola and Gary Hill, whose work affirmed his own interest in video installation as the appropriate medium for his investigations. Restrepo has worked in video art since 1987. Since 1988 he has been a pioneer of this technique in Colombia. His field of action spans single-channel, video performance, and video installation. His activities include research and teaching. His work is some of the strongest in national contemporary art. He exhibits his work regularly in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
Restrepo’s work has been the subject of various solo exhibitions, including “Teofanías”, Museo de Antioquia, Medellín (2008); “TransHistorias: Mito y Memoria en la Obra de José Alejandro Restrepo”, Biblioteca Luís Ángel Arango, Bogotá (2001); “Musa Paradisíaca”, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá (1997); “Anaconda”, Aphone in Geneva, Switzerland (1993); “Terebra”, Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Bogotá -one of the first video installations he made in Colombia (1988).
His work has also been presented in many group exhibitions, “Aplicación Murillo. Materialismo, Caritas y Populismos’ in Seville (2018-2019); “Botánica Política”, Fundación la Caixa, Barcelona (2004); “Cantos/Cuentos Colombianos” Contemporary Colombian Art in Daros-Latinoamérica, Zurich (2004); “Tempo” at MoMa – Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); “Arte y Violencia” Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (1999); “The Sense of Place”, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1998).
He has participated in several international art events, such as the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre (2011), Biennial of Lyon (2011), Museo del Quai Branly (2013) and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (2015), Bienal de La Habana (1994, 2000), 23rd Bienal de São Paulo (1996), y la Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador, where his work received the biennial award.
In 1995 the artist was awarded the VII Salón Regional de Artistas, Corferias, Zona 7, Santafé de Bogota, Colombia.
Restrepo was awarded witz the Prize of V La Bienal de Arte de Bogotá, VIII Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador (2004) and the Prize Luís Caballero (2013).