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Contemporary Mexican Art

Live With Animals and BQE Gallery

This month in Brooklyn, there are two galleries offering Contemporary Mexican Art on the topic of Mexican life and various challenges thereto. In Mexico, escalating violence and political malfeasance are common occurrences. The collision of complex issues including poverty, pervasive corruption, kidnapping, extortion and a wearisome drug war, has created a ‘perfect storm’ of adversity for its citizens. It is from within this context that these two shows originate.

“Asesinos” (Assassins) through January 10th at Live With Animals Gallery (210 Kent Ave) is the product of an exchange with up and coming Yautepec Gallery in Mexico City. Intended as ‘an exploration of violence from several uniquely Mexican perspectives’, Asesinos succeeds in presenting a disturbing glimpse into a world, uncomfortably familiar to our own.

Ximena Labra’s ‘Vigilante’, a video loop of a gun-wielding mannequin installed on a hospital rooftop, sadly recalls the futility of scarecrows, plastic owls and other pest control aids. Equally poignant, Marion Sosa’s photography requites, through the scratching out of faces in a Santeria style visual patricide, a difficult family upbringing. Enigmatic images from Mark Alor Powell of abandoned cars, contusions, and lifeless figures raise alarming universals; “What happened?” “Where have they gone?” and “What will become of them/us?”
San Honesto

A few streets away finds a collaborative effort against corruption from Factoria de Santos and Eyelevel BQE Gallery (364 Leonard St). Extended through January 17th, “Honesty” presents art curated around themes of rectitude, self-reflection and a fictional saint named ‘Honesto’. Created by Luisa Gloria, ‘San Honesto’ has his own legend, observance day and a mirrored face, forcing all who see him to consider their own lives and values. Replete with figurines, prayer cards & candles, ‘San Honesto’ is brilliant in its ability to be inserted seamlessly into the quotidian activities of the Mexican populace. A highpoint is ‘Mundo Feliz’ (Brave New World) a pulp novella illustration of ‘Honesto’ at work from famed ‘El Libro Vaquero’ cover artist, Jorge Aviña.

Intended to replace real money in the occurrence of ‘mordidas’ (bribes), artist Vena2 tenders gorgeous revamps of the 100 Peso bill. Available at the newly launched eyelevelfocus.com, this convincing currency replaces our ‘In God we trust’ with “I’m honest”, “I won’t swear again” and “Thank you for freeing me”. Also of note, Gabriella Alva’s clever “Faux Truth” and a sensitively hand rendered drawing by lauded designer, Dan Funderburgh.

It is a rare opportunity to see concurrent shows (with over 14 Contemporary Mexican Artists between them) on similarly salient issues. Though emanating from episodically hazardous circumstance, these artists share a sentiment common to most; the immutable calling to spin order out of chaos.

—Enrico Gomez