My drawings, paintings, and etchings represent social conflict and political aggression as the fruits of the pursuits of insatiable male virility. I render these themes in a variety of satirical, surreal and grotesque modes, drawn from a wide range of pictorial influences. Mining the past and present in order to compose a visual commentary on contemporary life, my work portrays fictional battles on the Mexican-American border and reimagines Christian concepts of damnation. It investigates the interplay of myth and politics, as well as elements of American pop culture, such as cartoons, westerns, and the Klu Klux Klan. Mixing disparate elements together I create an amalgam of cultural identity and give historical context to modern violence and conflicts.
The work follows two storylines. One fabula is based on the Harrowing of Hell which in historical Christian imagery pictures Christ’s triumphant descent into hell before his resurrection. Using the language of this iconography, I reflect on the political brutality and emotional polarization of today. In my large scale Harrowing of Hell and Cutthroat paintings, there is a deliberate tension between the saccharine and campy palette––what I like to call ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’ colors––and the sadism of the myriad images. Unbridled masculine desires mete out innumerable sorrows upon a vulnerable world. In the etchings from this series, the delicate filigree and smaller scale emphasize the abundance of cruelty in our everyday lives and news cycles.
I call the second concept The Casta Wars. Etchings, paintings and mixed-media installations from this series depict a race war on the Mexican-American border. I have created a cast from the zoological inventory of racial types originating in 17th and 18th Century Colonial Spanish Casta paintings. These historical paintings illustrated in vivid detail a eugenic-like lexicon about race mixing in Latin America. Using its breeding categories (such as Mestizo, Sambo, Lobo, Mulatto, etc...) as a departure point, I have created characters which are visual composites of art historical references. Ideals of cultural and racial purity precipitate battles and conflicts in the borderlands between Mexico and the United States. Although my casta wars are fictional, they place American nativist and racial bigotry in their historical context. The etchings will be assembled into a Book of Castas that will create a pictorial narrative and documentation of this imaginary war. I am also working on using these etchings to create an animation of the war itself.