Mexican Artist SANER Borrows From the Past, Present and Metaphysical For Latest Exhibit
"I think that if we disregard the mask, we are nothing."
Images: Thinkspace Gallery
SANER’s work earns its pattern from the ancient and the now. Inspired by Mexican folklore and the country’s legacy of political muralists, he began as a graffiti artist in the late 1990s, and has evolved his work into the present day to include a studio and public practice. The Mexico City-based artist’s paintings, large-scale murals and illustrations can be likened to visual fables. They invoke the mysticism of the natural world, the conflict of the modern world, and the surrealist possibilities of the dream world.
Often pegged to themes of duality – the wholly human and the divine, magic and fact, animal and human, the innocent and the knowing, the indigenous and the colonizing, SANER, who’s given name is Edgar Flores, uses the mask as his primary vessel for storytelling. He draws from the ancient tradition and metaphor of Nahuale animal masks, that tell of human beings believed to shape shift – spiritually or physically – and transform into animal form. His masks borrow from the rich mythology of the Mexican states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, but he also creates anew, dreaming up his own modern day deities. The resulting work both conceals identity and broadcasts true nature. These creatures are exceptional; these creatures are Everyman.
“The masks that I use are traditional masks in Mexico,” SANER told ecosystem blog. “The jaguars, coyotes, skulls and other recurrent characters appear in my work because that parallel world is the real self, the real face. I think that if we disregard the mask, we are nothing.”
For his latest exhibition, the artist has teamed up with Thinkspace Gallery, in collaboration with Mexico’s Fifty24MX Gallery, to present In a Dream (En un Sueño). It features all new works, mostly acrylic paintings, but also limited-edition masks sculpted from Oaxacan clay thanks to the Coatlicue Collective, and an outdoor mural installation.
The series is whimsical and jarring in equal dose. Are his often eye-less creatures – and us by extension – blind to our own nature? With the unchecked proliferation of technology and urbanization, SANER reminds us that it’s likely. We each carry the instinct to dream and to destroy.
Thinkspace Gallery presents In a Dream (En un Sueño) at Brand Library & Art Center (1601 West Mountain Street) in Glendale, California through January 7th, 2017.