New York-based artist Wilfredo Prieto (born 1978 in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba) is the heir of Cildo Meireles, Luis Camnitzer, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Gabriel Orozco, artists who initiated a radical Post-Minimal esthetic that contests Frank Stella's famous dictum, "What you see is what you see." These five artists apply Minimal esthetics while paradoxically creating works with dense, provocative and poetic meanings. Prieto, who followed this trajectory to astonishing extremes, has been well received, especially in Europe. With numerous awards, museum exhibitions and biennials (including Venice, Havana, São Paulo and Istanbul) to his name, he is the most internationally acclaimed Latin American artist of his generation.
His work is formally diverse: installations, sculptures, objects, performances, drawings and interventions in the public realm, which all aim to articulate ideas and deconstruct language. Taking Orozco's famous empty shoe box of 1993 a step further, he has made pieces that are just bread crumbs (Bread Crumbs Are Also Bread, 2011) or a burnt-out match lying on the floor (Dying Star, 2010), or water, dog shit and a stone on a park's pavement (Obstacle, 2007). Such works are more than whims: slyly critiquing the mechanisms that construct art's value, they cause us to reflect on the ways that systems are conventionally structured. Holy Water (2009) is just a puddle of sanctified water dampening the floor, but the piece plays with the notion of Benjaminian aura and the transformation of a common natural element. The aura of art is loaded on top of the aura of a "holy" object.