My family and I immigrated to Los Angeles in l975 from Apatzingan, Michoacan, Mexico. This experience-that of leaving one land for another, having to constantly redefine what it means to be a person, a man, a part of a community-is a central theme of my work. The ideas of love, desire, and identity are constants, consuming me and dictating both the form and the content of what I create.
Most of my work is graphite on paper, canvas, or wood. Creating a new piece is a labor-intensive process that can take hundreds of pencils and or graphite leads, and up to hundreds of hours to complete.
I prefer to isolate my subjects on the surface, much like a string of islands adrift in a vast ocean. My subjects then receive several layers of flowing cross-hatching. Calculated lines that dance with fluidity of wet paint create the illusion of depth, or realism.
(*from Alejandre's website: www.abelalejandre.com)
Cross Hatching of images
Isolated figure with still life
(rooster part of Mexican culture iconography)
Integrating longing for homeland with skyline of Los Angeles (east)
Integration of homeland struggles following him to Los Angeles. Birds and Aztec symbolism, male figure with "devil horns" (influences of new land?)
Integration of father (history) with Vincent Price (actor) -Abel's experience in college and symbolism of Hollywood and the actor's portrayls of evil/horror)
My father as a worker (hombre as label on shirt).
What is the symbolism of the label integrated with the cactus?
Memories of the travel to new country.
Art historical references along with Mexican celebrities. (Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Maria Felix)
Virgin Mary personalized. How is the Virgin Mary stylized from the orginal images?
Virgin of Guadalupe and middle eastern references?
Drawing on non-traditional surfaces.
Abel Alejandre with Jennifer Feist and Sandra Vista December 2011
tools of the trade
Alejandres writes: " I prefer to isolate my subjects on the surface, much like a string of islands adrift in a vast ocean. My subjects then receive several layers of flowing cross-hatching. Calculated lines that dance with the fluidity of wet paint create the illusion of depth or realism."
1.Referring to the quotation above; how is the bird that is "cawing" in the center relate to the bird on the right? (hint: compare the intergration of the background marks with the cawing bird-is the background a generating force taking over the birds or bird?) (prophecies-caws?)
2. The rooster is the center of focus. How does Alejandre add to his realism?What do you think is the meaning of the lines wrapped around the rooster's legs connecting with the potatoes? What is the purpose of the rooster image in the right hand corner? How does this rooster add to the strength of the main rooster? (strength vs vulnerablity (strings-lines-) )
3. The drawing below integrates art historical references with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as Aztec designs, movies stars in the man's head and "Mexican" movie icon Maria Felix. If the child in the foreground was a symbol of Alejandre- what do you think his tormented face is trying to express? (Alejandre's quote: "This experience-that of leaving one land for another, having to constantly redefine what it means to be a person, a man, a part of a community.")
4. What kind of "hints" does Alejandre tells us about his experiences as a man trying to "constantly redefine" himself in a new country through the drawing of his father in "Mi Nopales"?
5. What kind of tribute to his father is Alejandre representing in the drawing below? How does the Vincent Price figure on the left (movie star/horror films) and the angry dog add to inner turmoil and the dichotomy of life ? (division , separation, difference of opinion, disagreement)
6.What kind of political statement do you think Alejandre is expressing by the grenade drawing and the draped woman? How do these images relate to his homeland of Mexico (traditions, wars) and his life in the United States?