Detail of "El niño", by Elinar and Jamex de la Torre.
Einar and Jamex de la Torre at Mexic-Arte Museum
by Mary Jane Garza
Mexic-Arte Museum not only has shown some of the more popular Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, but in recent years has made a big effort to give space to up-and-coming and contemporary artists doing work that pushes the envelope. Its most recent exhibit, Anacronistas, by brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, is not only exciting but one that has raised much controversy in other cities, especially Mexico City, about how the artists treat their subject matter. The de la Torres use blown glass and mixed media to combine sacred, classical religious imagery with popular art forms from the US/Mexico border. Their appealingly avant-garde creations push the viewer to think about the many issues between Mexico and the US.
Originally from Guadalajara, the brothers now live and work in both San Diego, California and Ensenada, Mexico. They have been working collectively for two decades.
As part of this special exhibit, the De la Torres installed El Niño, a 13'x20'x20' mixed media pyramid which took almost two months to create. The piece is an overwhelming work that reached to the ceiling of the museum. Indeed, the top part of the upholstered Aztec-meets-lowrider pyramid, a statue of El Niño Jesus, didn't fit in the building and had to be left out. Instead, flying crucifixes with images of Jesus Christ, fixed with propellers and lights, hang across the ceiling in formation and swoop into the side of the pyramid. The piece is an incredible depiction of two clashing worlds old and new, Christian and indigenous, corrupt and innocent.
"This exhibit is an important one for us," said Jamex. "I wish we had been able to do a demonstration of working with the glass, to show how we do it."
Although their mixed-media sculptures usually include flame-worked, cast and / or blown glass, the brothers do not consider themselves to be glass artists, per se. Neither do I. The way they combine glass with soft drink cans, furry upholstery, plastic, cast plaster, propellers and a myriad of other items blurs pop culture, border issues, and sacred icons into works of art that speak directly to the viewer.
In Coyolxauhqui, a ten-foot satellite dish suddenly becomes the framework for an image of the dismembered moon goddess. The goddess, whose name also means "light of the night," sits surrounded by satin material in a diamond stitch pattern on which glass TVs have been placed. Each TV set flaunts stereotypical images of Americana on its screen: guns, cigarettes, big boobs, blonds and alcohol.
The pair of artists have shown extensively in the last two decades and their works are in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Tucson Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kanazu Museum in Japan.