Candida Alvarez

Candida Alvarez is an intuitive conceptual artist whose wide-ranging practice spans sculpture, collage, abstraction, and figuration, with materials ranging from fabric, acrylic paint, enamel, and PVC mesh. Her abstract paintings are imbued with both personal and formal aspects that evolve through her relationship to color, light, and architectural elements. When creating each image, Alvarez engages in what she calls “an active search,” exploring the world around her with unremitting curiosity, investing thoughtful attention into that which is often deemed ordinary. Her paintings begin with an underlying drawn structure released as color is applied. Sometimes the structure can peek through with the linen on which the painting sits. The color is finally what holds the painting to the surface.  


Alvarez (b.1955, New York, NY) received her MFA from Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT (1997) and has been teaching painting at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago for 20 years. Alvarez’s work has been included in two major Caribbean survey exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, New York, NY (2022), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (2022); the inaugural La Triennial at El Museo del Barrio in New York (whose title Estamos Bien was inspired by an Alvarez painting), Latinx Abstraction at BRIC Arts in Brooklyn, and Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture in Belgium. Alvarez was commissioned by the City of Chicago to create a 200 foot-long, digital painting installed outdoors on the Riverwalk as part of the inaugural Year of Public Art (2017); collaborated with international designer Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons 2017 Men’s Couture collection; had a 40-year retrospective at the Chicago Cultural Center curated by Terry R. Myers; and published her first monographic book Here: A Visual Reader. In 2022, Alvarez was commissioned by the Fashion Outlets of Chicago to produce a site-specific mural.


Public collections include DePaul Art Museum, IL; El Museo de Barrio, NY; The Studio Museum, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Perez Art Museum Miami, FL; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. Recent awards and fellowships include the 2022 Ford Mellon Foundation Latinx Artist Fellowship, 2022 Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Art, the Helen Frankenthaler Award for painting in 2021, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant in 2019. She currently lives and works in Baroda, MI and Chicago, IL.