Mexico is a country that is associated too often with violence, cartels, drugs and corruption. But what do we know, in Europe, about Mexican contemporary art, or about Mexican art in general? Not much, except from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Contemporary Mexican art criticizes, denounces, it is engaged, and its social dimension is essential: history, the people, memory and the future. This section of our blog has the ambition to cover subjects from outside of France. Today, we feature Carlos Amorales.
Born in Mexico in 1970, Carlos Amorales is not a very flashy artist. It is hard to find out details about his life and very few interviews of him are available; most of the information that can be found about his personality concerns the one essential thing about him, that is his practice. Centering on Mexico, the role of the artist and language, he uses a great variety of media, from performance to video and painting, drawing and sculpture.
Peinture « Broken Animals» (2006), Galerie Yvon Lambert (France)
Passionate about the theme of language and signs, in 1998 he started to develop an archive project entitled « Liquid Archives », gathering drawings, cuts of magazine images of animals, people, car crashes, scenes of violence and environmental disasters. Carlos Amorales makes use of this visual alphabet in order to construct his artworks, and creates continuity and a language for his productions.
Peinture « Small colors for holding large spaces (cromofobias) 2 » (2010), Galerie Yvon Lambert (France)
While The artworks of the « Liquid Archive » series are empty of feeling, their setting often speculates on a strong tension and an anxiety in communication emphasized by the use of black and their flatness. The artist takes inspiration from fantasy and horror art, he plunges the viewers in a world of shadows, obsessive and terrifying silhouettes, as in his artwork « Black Cloud » produced in 2007. The walls are covered in 30 000 black paper butterflies and the visitor seems to be witnessing the butterflies that are frozen in their flight, stuck in the middle of all the minuscule creatures that are in movement and still at the same time.
Installation « Black Cloud » (2009), Eglise Espacio AV (Espagne)
Willing to involve his viewers in the construction of his visual language, Carlos Amorales asks them to help in the production of his artworks, as he did for the installation of “The Language of the Dead”. Inspired by Calder, Amorales produced a huge kinetic sculpture composed of dozens of cymbals. There are two new elements coming from outside the sculpture medium in this artwork: sound and viewer participation. People are invited to play the cymbals, creating musical harmony or just noise: “we’ll see how all reverberates”, says the artist. There are people who try to play a song they already know and others who improvise and this way, the sculpture becomes performance.
Installation « Black Cloud » (2007), Galerie Yvon Lambert (France)
The artist is also interested in language and politics, and this idea is clearly illustrated by his project “Supprimer modifier et préserver” (Delete, Edit or Keep) produced for the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne in 2007. This installation is composed of an edition of the Civile Code that visitors can check in the exhibition space and of video interviews of several legal experts. The artist asked them to choose an article of the Civil Code and delete it in order to evaluate the potential consequences. The visitors can consult the Civil Code, but there’s one strange detail: the pages are written in invisible ink that disappears as it is exposed to light. This way, the artist questions ironically our acquired but fragile civil rights.
Installation La langue des morts (2007), Galerie Yvon Lambert (France)
Supprimer, modifier et préserver Video
The butterfly and the bird are recurring elements in his work. His silhouettes are faceless, anonymous and without any expression, but they inspire fear, the fear of a truth that is barely taking shape in his work. At the limit of performance, his shows are recorded in videos and often connected to music and to animation projects. Carlos Amorales is represented by the Yvon Lambert gallery and he is definitely an artist to follow closely.
Installation « Broken Animals» (2006), Galerie Yvon Lambert (France)