José Alejandro Restrepo was born in June of 1959 in Paris, France. He originally studied medicine (a theme which would later reappear in several of his works, such as Terebra and Quiasma) but 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 Ecole 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. He currently lives and works in Santafé de Bogotá, 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 Luis Angel Arango, Bogotá (2001); Musa Paradisíaca, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá (1997); Anaconda, Aphone in Geneva, Switzerland (1993); and Terebra in the Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Bogotá- one of the first video installations made in Colombia (1988). His work has also been presented in many group exhibitions, including Arte y Violencia en Colombia, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (1999); The Sense of Place, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1998); Tempo in the Museum of Modern Art Queens, New York (2002); Botánica Política, Santa Montcada, Fundación la Caixa in Barcelona (2004) and Cantos/Cuentos Colombianos: Contemporary Colombian Art in the Daros-Latinamerica, Zurich (2004). He has participated in several international art events, such as the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), the Havana Biennal (1994, 2000), the 23rd Sao Paolo Biennial (1996), and the Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador, where his work received the bienal award. In 1995 the artist was awarded the VII Salón Regional de Artistas, Corferias, Zona 7, Santafé de Bogota, Colombia.