What is the current trend in Mexican art?
I think there is more than one trend. Last century artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo and Frida Kahlo, to name a few, still influence many artists in my country. Their pieces are well known at the international level and command very high prices. Furthermore, Surrealism left an important mark in my country, which is still setting a style for many artists. Similarly, in the north of the country the US-Mexico border culture has bred a very distinct art style for decades which is not only pictorial but musical as well, and the south of the country is also interesting, with an art style that blends modern and ancient elements. Good examples of this are Demián Flores, who uses wrestlers, pre-Hispanic symbols, etc., and Dr. Lakra, who is much better known at the international level.
Art in Mexico, as in any part of the world, is still immersed in difficult financial circumstances, with adrop in art collecting and a lack of adequate resources for grants, so that the artist still struggles day by day to live off his or her art. Unfortunately, there are not enough art galleries or showrooms and many artists take low-paying jobs in which their activity is of a more commercial nature. There are a significant number of art forums where artistic pieces can be shown, but there is no formal, earnest sales promotion and the artist needs to be his own promoter even though this is not easy and many lack the ability to do so. There are a few noteworthy exceptions that are fortunately being replicated, but not at the necessary pace.
The fact is that the Mexican mind has changed in regard to art. It is now much more open. There is still quite a lot of censorship, but not at all like 20 years ago when exhibits were shut down because of controversial subjects such as nudity or religion. Spencer Tunick was a positive success several years ago in the Zócalo, downtown Mexico City, there were calls for censorship, but they died down without getting a response.
I hope censorship decreases in the coming years and more spaces for art criticism open. Mexico City is an avant-garde region in this sense, and open-mindedness exists, but there is a latent risk when you go to other parts of the country. Political difficulties and discussions between different ideologies in the country have also had their consequences. The more liberal political parties have brought to the country bolder proposals and people have responded well. With more conservative governments, the difficulties have been deplorable, but public opinion I insist has changed.
I know many young people who are fighting for a space and it has been very interesting to see how Internet and the social networks have offered them a grand showcase. Several of them are already selling abroad at international prices. I think this is the right attitude, to keep at it rather than sitting down and deploring the situation. We must fight and come together, this is what we still need to do. Do you consider yourself an artist of your culture?
Yes, I find social criticism exciting, particularly in regard to religion. The majority of people in Mexico are religious, predominantly Catholic. I was a Catholic up to the age of 17. The history of my country is closely tied to this religion.To what extent do you see the artistic process as a sexual act?
I don't see it as such. Art is addictive, exhausting, exciting, but there is a difference in that two are needed for the minimal sexual act. Which qualities do you look for when choosing a model?
I want them to have a beautiful body, long legs and wide hips, although I usually manipulate their images digitally to achieve a final appearance that agrees with the concept of the piece. There is also a spontaneous something that emerges when I look at the position of the body and the attitude of the model. In your drawings you celebrate the female form, but you surround it with images of decay. Are you warning us of the dangers of Woman or on the nature of desire?
I do not see the female essence as dangerous. As far as I am concerned, its capacity to provoke desire is unbelievable and inspiring. In my works I have always tried to unite two antithetical poles: decadence, many times symbolized by death, and erotic elements as a force which, through sexual instincts, produces the most unexpected and far-reaching changes in our society. Such coexistence is quite natural in fantasies, for how often have we heard the expression "I long to die in your arms" or "better to kill you than to lose you". Society has always coexisted with this relationship, so much so that it has inspired great literary works such as Canto V in the Divine Comedy, which was itself inspired by Francesca de Rimini, a symbol of adultery, lust and love.
Freud said that the desire of children for the mother-object ceases upon the death of the father, and Baudelaire that the ultimate sense of erotism is death. Ejaculation may be a sort of foretaste of the end la petite mort, blood, virginity, erotism and death, I believe these concepts are more complex and more profound. We are speaking of instincts that have existed for millions of years and which, now that we have created societies, we attempt to control and suppress, often more than is due, in order to achieve a "healthy coexistence". Politicians and the Church have used such control as they like in order to suppress people through fear and ignorance. These instincts should be admitted and people should feel free to express them and to coexist responsibly with them as part of our culture. It is here that artistic expression contributes to human society, it is the channel for their expression.
In a society as hypocritical as ours, these instincts are taboo, and every taboo incites us to break it. You claim to be an atheist but in some of your works I see the deification of women, and a penchant for altered states of consciousness, is sensuality just Nature's helping hand or do you feel the touch of something greater?
I am an atheist since the age of 17, but my life as a Catholic was intense. I still have certain fears that were bred in my childhood by the apprehension of divine punishment. It is hard to pull oneself away from this unconsciously. In my case, during the creative process, more so with traditional drawing, I usually attain altered states of consciousness in which symbols and images emerge. Many times even I myself do not find the relationship between some of these elements. After a time, at any moment and all of a sudden, this recollection emerges, other times it never does.
Some psychoanalysts use art for communication and the treatment of mental disorders. Evidently, many things can arise during this process. There are artists who purposefully self-induce insomnia in order to experience psychosis, others are bolder and use entheogens, from coffee to ayahuasca and LSD, to name a few.
In my opinion, there is no divine being from a religious viewpoint, and nothing is sacred. For years I have researched the creative process and the brain from a scientific standpoint. It is an extensive and thrilling subject. I have gone to symposiums attended by scientists, shamans, physicians and artists in which grand experiences were shared in an atmosphere of great respect, and indeed, a relationship does exist between hallucinations, the imaginative process, neurotransmitters, brain functions and so on, in a culture medium that engenders great works of art.
The Divine is present in many of my pieces, sometimes as a criticism, sometimes as a symbol of the deification of woman and of erotism.When did you start exploring digital art?
I started in 2001, when I was 39 years old. I have loved art since I was a child and I occasionally drew and painted until I turned 30. I took me almost ten years to create art once more. Digital art attracted me and was a new beginning. A couple of years later I went back to drawing. Your digital art, on the whole, is not so dark as your drawings, and it seems that you have explored different aspects of desire in that medium. Why do you feel you are able to express yourself differently with digital art?
Definitely, traditional drawing offers me infinite options which are limited in digital art because of my skills. I am not a Photoshop professional, I never studied, I just bought books and journals, the rest was all self-learning.
Drawing takes me deeper into my personal experiences, desires and fears. Only through drawing am I able to experience a greater depth of concentration and altered states of consciousness such as daydreaming. I have never used entheogens, perhaps the only drug was alcohol at first with digital art, but drawing while intoxicated is impossible.
Many times when I get an idea, it is born by considering first if it will be digital or traditional drawing.
Personally, I enjoy traditional drawing more, even though it is mentally more exhausting. At times I break off drawing for a few days to do something digital and relax a bit. Describe exquisite corpse.
It is a game, it is a wonderful experience, and it is addictive.
The technique was used by Surrealists in 1925 and originated in a game called "Consequences", during which players write by turns on a sheet of paper, covering part of what they have written and passing the sheet to the next player who looks at the last part and continues the writing of the text.
The name originated in a phrase formed when it was first played in France: Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau (the exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine). It was used a lot in poetry by Bretón, Éluard, Tzara and Desnos who all said that creation should be anonymous, a group effort, spontaneous and even automatic.
The technique was subsequently used in drawing. At present, a group of artists myself included continue playing this game, quite differently from the original in the sense that only the outcome is spontaneous and the actual drawing is not automatic. Those I have made with the artists Gromyko Semper (the Philippines) and Bernd Dreilich (Germany) are elaborately complex, full of symbolisms, and were consciously worked on to achieve a unified concept of the subject as seen from different viewpoints given our own cultural diversity. I am not sure one should continue to call them exquisite corpses.There is a sense of claustrophobia in some of your work, not just the shibari ones, do you see Shibari as an artform, is there an underlying philosophy to it?
A little bit of aggression gives sex a very different meaning. I think most of us like it but not everyone admits it, from very light things to something stronger, from dirty words to insults, from a slap on the buttocks to something much more elaborate in which function is inverted and pleasure is obtained through pain. Sadomasochism has always attracted me in theory and in practice, I have never tried it and when such scenes are combined with art work they become in my opinion visually delectable.
Shibari was initially a technique for torturing and restraining prisoners which could only be used by samurai warriors. Today it is a very popular tying technique during bondage, in which the individual is partially or fully immobilized and, unlike the original technique, the person tying the bonds also experiences sexual pleasure through domination.
My first piece was a contribution of several images from David Lawrence. I also met online some of his models as well as other women who regularly execute this sort of practices either as models or for pleasure, or both. With Clover, one of David's models, I had a number of very interesting chats that impelled me to keep experimenting with this type of images. She became a sort of inspirational muse and perhaps a fetish.
Sadomasochistic techniques are in my opinion a means by which an individual can fully exert his or her sex life, a philosophy of pleasure, desire and arousal. Artistically, they are a way of expressing my basic ideas on the sexual instinct. What are your ambitions for the Pandora's Box Gallery?
When I started to create art professionally five years ago, I received a lot of support from friends I met online (DeviantArt and Facebook), Gromyko Semper, Otto Rap, John Paul Thornton, Santiago Ribeiro, Exilentia Exiff, Roman Newak, Bernd Dreilich, George Teseleanu, and many others. With them, I have carried out different group projects, art forums, book editing, and thanks to them I had my first international exhibitions. I believe it is now time for me to do my share and help other artists achieve their goals, and this is the aim of the art gallery: to show art that stirs people's consciences, that is controversial, breeds discussion, and adds to other similar projects, outside the scope of the more conservative trends, through bolder options. This is more to my liking, I have always been a provoker. I also seek to make a sale that allows the artist to be compensated fairly and provides the gallery with income to be used basically for maintenance and publicity.
See it in the Justin´s blog here: luminousdecay.posterous.com/an…