ENRIQUE CHAGOYA ‘Palimpsesto caníbal’

Artist: Enrique Chagoya

Exhibition title: Palimpsesto caníbal
Curator: Blanca de la Torre
Dates: 23.01.2015 to 19.04.2015
Place: CAAM – San Antonio Abad. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Spain.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Enrique Chagoya in his study. Photo: Eugenio Castro.

Enrique Chagoya (Mexico City, 1953), has lived in San Francisco for over two decades. He combines characters borrowed from comics, cartoons and popular culture with figures from the world of politics, History of Art, economics and religion, and with other characters created by the artist himself. This molds an imaginary made up of multiple layers, like a palimpsest, which can be seen in this exhibition and throughout Chagoya’s work.

The first floor is destined to works dealing with the conflict of immigration. The artist satirizes the idea of the United States as the land of freedom and civil rights through his well-known series Illegal Alien’s Guide and Liberty.

Two of Chagoya’s well-known lithographic maps are also shown with this series.

A general overview of the artist throughout the years can be seen on the top floor. We can see three works belonging to Goya’s print series Disparates (Follies), also called Proverbios (Proverbs), where Chagoya recreates the Spanish master’s prints down to the millimeter, but replacing some of the original faces with new ones, which correspond to famous politicians. We can see three drawings based on prints of the 19th century as well as the renowned work The Head Ache, based on the homonymous print by George Cruikshank, but with Obama’s head instead.

Political criticism, always present in Chagoya’s work, is clear in one of his best known series: the eight drawings that make up Poor George –based on Philip Guston’s Poor Richard– with George Bush as the main character. Chagoya keeps his critical posture via his tributes: in this case, to José Clemente Orozco, with two large ink-on-paper works, and to James Ensor with the painting Thinking of Ensor and My Cat Diego.

Chagoya’s critical view on economics is clear in Action House Blues and the series The Enlightened Savage, both with clear allusions to the world of art in general and to Warhol in particular.

The exhibition concludes with the artist’s philosophical yet humorous considerations, shown by his codex Illegal Alien’s Meditation on el Ser y la Nada and finally by Time Out, that well-known Chagoyan version of «Vanitas» with the skeletons playing golf.

In summary, Chagoya’s is a sort of symbolic anthropophagy. The whole of his work –as well as the exhibition itself– can be interpreted as a series of superimposed layers of the imaginary «gobbled up» by the artist, made up by a great variety of iconographies and sources. The result is a genuine cannibalistic palimpsest.




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