Artist: Andrés Salaz
oil on panel
48 x36 inches
The shamanic power of turning into animals always fascinated me. My grandpa from Oaxaca introduced me to these legends and it was easy to believe such beings existing in remote areas hiding in the tricky moonlight. When these creatures weren’t protecting someone or creating chaos somewhere, they gather to transmit their encounters and celebrate under the moon-lit trees and clouds.
Andrés Salaz was born in Mexico City. He was inﬂuenced at an early age by the traditions and mythology from two different culturally rich areas that predate Hispanic colonization. From his mother’s side, he experienced the mysticism of the South East of Mexico in the Paciﬁc where the Zapotec, a pre-Hispanic culture, ﬂourished and are still very alive through their language and customs. From his father’s side, he was inﬂuenced by the cultures close to the Gulf of Mexico.
Rituals, masks, archeological sites, the jungle, legends, encounters with animals and people have been a major inﬂuence in Andrés’ work and perspective. He has traveled extensively in the south of Mexico experiencing the contrast of the raw magic of rural towns versus the speed and materiality of big cities.
He studied drawing, design, printmaking, ﬁlm production at Emily Carr University and Kwantlen University, focusing primarily in painting. He has organized several group shows as president of the Surreyalists, the Kwantlen University art collective. He was also the founder of Pulp, the ﬁrst arts and literature magazine printed for Kwantlen University. He was selected to be part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in 2018.
My work reflects my physical experiences in nature framed by myths and cultural knowledge from diverse areas around Mexico and the Canadian West Coast. In my paintings I express my fascination for natural elements and the mythology they inspire. I seek to create my own characters, taken from observation of different environments and their inhabitants. Plants, masks, rituals, encounters with animals, storms, people, natural sounds and unnatural noise, confined within my work. The tactility of paint allows my characters, natural and artificial elements and atmospheres to exist in their own to tell a non-linear story. The stories they tell are influenced by the heavy mysticism and traditional practices of rural towns in Mexico and the speed and materiality of cities like Mexico City and Vancouver.
Through colour, layers, and the properties and immediacy of the material, I aim to create atmospheres that are not descriptive through detail but rather try to capture not only the visual side in memories but also the heat, the noise, the discomfort, the amazement, the altered states of mind, the music, the movement of nature and people and the aura of all these elements. The artistic style might seem harsh at times but it reﬂects the intensity of a culture where nature and mysticism are always surrounded by diﬃcult realities. One cannot just use these characters only as symbols of cultural richness without being aware of poverty, social injustice, violence and other issues that linger in everyday life, but these fractures and dualities between the natural and the artiﬁcial, life and death, light and darkness, representation and abstraction ultimately are part of his work.
“Celebratory” would be the key word in my work, as the elusive characters and natural elements engage in behaviours separated from any speciﬁc setting. My characterization of nature and its beings dance, pose, live in celebration of memory, light, and the illusion that lies beyond material life.