José de Jesús “Chucho” León Hernández is a part of Mexico City’s nightlife. For over twenty years he has been documenting the city’s vibrant music scene, the carryings-on at underground venues and gay clubs, the newcomers and leavers, rising stars and departing legends.
A huge cultural magnet with its population of 20 million, the Mexican metropolis is constantly reinventing its nightlife, providing a stage for those who seek the limelight and perfect hunting grounds for Chucho, whose presence and camera significantly shape the ambiance around him, to chase and capture the creatures of the night.
His subjects vary from the young and beautiful to the queer; from drug- and sex-driven exuberance to Mexico’s eternal and omnipresent flirtation with death. Although Chucho’s work is included in some of Mexico’s major collections, it has yet to receive the recognition it deserves. Vida puts José León on the map in Mexico, where international recognition is often a prerequisite for recognition at home.
Chucho is influenced by the aesthetics of Mexican Catholicism as well as by fashion magazines and photobooks, which he studies obsessively. Although an autodidact, his works reveal a thoroughgoing knowledge and understanding of the history of photography and an uncanny feel for his surroundings.