The works of Cristóbal Lehyt deal with the question of how personal and subjective feelings are interconnected with cultural influences, but also projections and expectations. Lehyt’s artistic practice, specially his drawings, also departs from a psychological conundrum, projecting the real on a screen, or "sheet"—a piece of white fabric, thick but not totally opaque, serves in this case as an allegory of sight as blurred vision or detritus.
Much of Cristóbal Lehyt's work examines the way politics affect and manipulate cultural and national identity. Through a variety of media including photographs, installation, video and drawing, he often identifies and reworks collective symbols such as tourist souvenirs, folk singers, landscapes and craft objects that relate to a specific place, class structure or time in history.
Examples of this are works such as Pomaire (2009), where Cristóbal created a 36 metre long sculpture with thousands of broken pots. Shaped as the map of Chile, the installation used iconic pottery from Pomaire, a small town near Santiago. By breaking the pottery, Cristóbal destroys one of the country's national symbols by commenting on the fragility of the unifying image adopted by the neoliberal state that is keen to erase its uncomfortable and painful past.
El Norte, an ongoing piece started in 2003, develops this strategy further by aiming to capture in several images the 'meaning' of the North of Chile: its people, the history and the geography of the place. To date, Cristóbal has produced over 100 drawings, paintings and photographs which are all the same size and are generally shown propped against the gallery wall, to imply a commodification and simplification of culture in which the art world plays a significant part.
Typically, his series of drawings entitled, Drama Projections operates within the liminal realm of language as an impediment or defect. Drawing serves as a medium for a silent type of storytelling in which a mechanism of reproduction/psychic projection allows the artist to delve into life’s everyday conflicts that are unleashed by the artist’s narrative impulse.
He studied at Universidad Católica de Chile, Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. His work has been shown at the Carpenter Center, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Fundación Telefonica Chile, Or Gallery, Kunsthaus Dresden, Artists Space, The Shanghai Biennale, The Mercosul Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art and Queens Museum among others. In addition, he has produced works responding to specific contexts, in cities that include Bogotá, Caracas, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, Madrid, Beijing, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.
He has been awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Art Forum Fellowship, Harvard University. His work is in numerous collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art Santiago, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.