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Carlos Amorales at MUAC: Axioms for Action (1996-2018)

Posted on 8 May, 2018

Edwina Moreno Guerra
It is remarkable for a young Mexican artist like Carlos Amorales (Mexico City, 1970) to exhibit at Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC).
Havig lived and trained in Europe (1990-2004), he returned to Mexico as an established artist. This exhibition showcases pieces from different and even disparate genres. The effort invested in developing each piece is apparent; spectators have to concentrate in order to fully appreciaate them. There are no distinctive marks to give the show a degree of coherence, but if we were told that this is actually a collective exhibition we would promptly believe it, because he engages with so many artistic disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, performance, installation, sound art, cinema, writing, and other non traditional forms.
The son of two artists, Rowena Morales and Carlos Aguirre, Amorales understands that being a creator born outside the developed world is a handicap; he will never be able to get rid of the label of the cultural in which he was born, but it also provides him with ample opportunities to be highly individual and unique. His life experiences give him a perspective on the injustice of the world system.
His works currently on show at MUAC feature the horror vacui so characteristic of Mexican artists: these vast spaces are filled with black butterflies, meticulously placed in chaotic swarms of great beauty, like birds flying in wonderful flocks. There are rules at work here, harmonious in terms of means and intent, even if they produce an impression of disorder. The same applies to his installations: they are to be felt, because it is impossible to stop and observe each set, much less each one of its elements. And this is the most spectacular thing about it all.
His obsidian installation, Piedras Negras, is impressive because of this overcrowding of space, culminating in a huge bird with a broken wing, lying on the floor, wings extended, beautifully executed in its simplicity. After seeing all the smaller obsidian pieces exhibited on tables, a different reading of the installation emerges.
He wrote, directed, performed in, and made the sets and costumes for, a video which is like a tale for children, tetstifies to his multifaceted talents as an artist engaged with anti colonialism -something he has known since his childhood-, providing a poetic reading of the genocide perpetrated against indigenous people.
There are videos of his performances as well, in English, which literally are desperate screams against an oppressive system, which forces him to look for catharsis through a poetry of rebellion, with the help of two avant-garde musicians generating a stressful environment.
At the entrance, there are large-format drawings inspired by medieval religious drawings, overcharged with aggressive and lewd writings, filling the room from floor to ceiling (bear in mind that the exhibition rooms at MUAC are very high-ceilinged). One could spend two hours reading each drawing, trying to decipher each meaning; their saturation makes them come across as decoration, as if it were a temple erected to the folly of faith.
This exhibition is indeed an assault on conventional wisdom regarding what art ought to be, giving way to this auteur art, with his personal view and critique of the chaos of established assumptions. He is undoubtedly a peculiar character. I saw him outside the museum, chatting with a group of young people, perhaps sharing their experiences having visited the exhibition. I refrained from interrupting the connection between the teacher and his pupils. As a researcher, I had already established a connection with the work of this young Mexican artist, the outstanding Carlos Amorales.

(Edwina Moreno Guerra is a member of Cenidiap’s Academia de Arte Emergente y Nuevas Tecnologías)

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