graphite on paper, 156 x 126 inches
Untitled, Atlanta, Artist Lecture, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, 2010 (3:00)
Untitled, Atlanta, Artist Statement, 2006 (9:10)
: : Artist Statement : :
When I got to Atlanta, the first thing I did was go to an art store and I found a huge, beautiful roll of watercolor paper and I began this drawing as a panoramic piece, working on cityscapes that dealt with the city of Tijuana. I was probably homesick, but also I would walk around the city of Atlanta and find inspiring details that I would recreate in this cityscape. It wasn’t long before I began adding figures to this work and a huge geometric pattern began enclosing around figures, trapping them in a claustrophobic geometric cityscape. The figures were inhabitants of the city, Atlanta, Tijuana or any city. Once the cityscape at the top was completed I knew how the drawing was going to proceed. I developed the geometric pattern first and continued trapping figures within it, appropriating ideas from advertising, urban landscape, huge billboards, all the rectangles and squares, huge faces and bodies.
While working on this piece in August 2005 the bombings happened in London and the police killed a Brazilian person who panicked and ran and they shot him down thinking he was a terrorist. While working, I listen to NPR and hearing all the news about the Iraq war and the deaths really started to affect me. I stopped thinking of the figures as advertising in a cityscape and began to think of them as menaced inhabitants of this urban landscape I was creating. In the figure group on the right is a person with a gun to his head and another figure is pressing against another body with feet stepping on his head. Below I added more faces among the signage, one face being burned by a cigarette and another figure caressing a wounded head, closing this difficult section that deals with oppression and violence.
On the left side of the drawing I worked on another figure group, again incorporating imagery from Tijuana. The child figure with a wooden arm and wooden legs and saintly posture recalls santos, figures carved from wood in Mexico. My ideas evolve as I work and I let myself be influenced by the drawing itself. That is what happens with figurative work, one figure on a sheet of paper is a portrait, a figure in an existential void, but the moment another figure is added, there is an interaction, there is a conversation.
Atlanta is a very industrial city with impressive brick buildings and huge signage. It is the capital of Coca-Cola and there is a beautiful grid that sustains all the curved letters of Coca-Cola. I walked behind this grid and just loved it. I incorporated these curves that allude to text behind a grid in the center of the drawing.
Below the grid I continued the aesthetic of the grid with the image of the air conditioning unit, a constant fixture among Atlanta’s urban landscape. At the bottom right of the drawing I incorporated a floor, something to break the vertical lines throughout the drawing and add a horizontal plane that would give the composition a third dimension, a base for the whole structure. On the left side of the bottom I drew a girl sitting and decided to leave her unfinished, without a face. I left the area white, breaking the illusion of this being a certain reality, showing that this is drawing being done on two dimensions, on a sheet of paper.
To close the drawing I did another piece of signage with big letters. After working for a year and incorporating a year of ideas and experiences into one drawing, there was not one phrase that could define the drawing but I wanted to put a word in that would relate to the rest of the drawing and the phrase mirentodos came to me, meaning, “Everybody look, look at this, look at all the drawing, this is a whole year’s work.” Mirentodos is a phrase that invites the viewer to look. I ended this drawing with a portrait at the bottom, a face looking out, defiant, stopped.
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