Recently I have turned to my Mexican heritage as a source for inspiration for my paintings. Having grown up with one foot in the U.S. and the other in Mexico, it wasn’t until the recent surge in Trump inspired anti-Mexican rhetoric that I stopped taking my upbringing for granted. As a child I grew up going to visit my Mexican family every summer. My grandfather, Alfonso Ortiz Toscano made a living as a portrait painter in Guadalajara. When at an early age, I displayed an interest in art, Alfonso gave me painting and drawing lessons. The roots of my identity as an artist were planted in my grandfather’s studio. I have two current bodies of work that weave together to reflect my interests as a Mexican-American artist.
Set in traditional landscapes, I build invented ruins which act as metaphors for current events, my personal history and the way in which painting acts as a lens for considering these themes. Often these ruins are in mid rehabilitation, as if someone has reclaimed a deserted site and intends to fix it. Paused in the middle of rebuilding, these sites have the potential for innovation; a demonstration of resilience. Weaving together my imagination with references to actual places, the paintings take both a familiar tone and a sense of the uncanny.
“Los Dioses de los Pochos” is the second body of work that brings figures of invented deities into these landscapes of ruin. “Pochos” is a term describing Mexican-Americans who are neither entirely Mexican or American. Generally a Pocho is a first generation Mexican who doesn’t speak English or Spanish fluently; instead they have their own language and culture which straddles both nations.
The deities are a recent leap in imagination; they move the viewer out of the uncanny and into the surreal. They are statues that come to life through their dualities; they exist in between death and life. Dualities define them, they give them shape and their ambiguity is their strength.