By Irene Trejo
“I realized that my art will always seek to explain what’s hidden, and so it expresses itself in the very same way…”
Alejandro García Contreras was born in Chiapas, Mexico. As a kid, he spent a lot of time at a house his family owned deep in the jungle, at a place called Carrillo Puerto. There he grew up in harmony with nature and enjoyed being with his grandfather, a very esoteric being. Although Alejandro’s upbringing was Catholic, he was introduced to magic at a young age by his grandpa. Throughout his life he was also introduced to the Baha’i faith, and flirted a little bit with Mormonism and the Yoruba religion. “When I turned 11, my grandpa gave me the collection of the ‘World of the Unknown’ books,” he recalls. “He also had a store, where he used to do tarot readings and sold amber and coffee.” All of these factors inspired a spiritual quest, and a delight for the enigmatic.
Alejandro’s biggest interest is to explore the unconscious, and art has helped him to project messages, codes and things that exist inside him. Things that he can’t explain in a rational way. “I don’t speak of the unconscious as the surrealists did, but more from the perspective of psychology. I want to develop the internal part that we can hardly communicate with words and convey it with emotions,” he says. He believes the “statistical” artists have become very popular lately, and the lack of interest in the spirit nowadays concerns him. He chooses to reject the capitalist vision of art and remember that art was once magic, objects that had a function within rituals and represented death and life.
The presence of symbols is evident in all of his work, as well as the appearance of popular and fictional characters such as anime, aliens, rock stars and porn actresses. “I am very thankful for Star Wars, Joseph Campbell and ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ for instance.” The artist wants to understand what we believe in now: “following the line of esotericism and adding popular culture, which is the modern myth, and my own interests of spiritual search, it was very natural that these characters somehow became the new gods,” he says. In the end, he argues, everything we consume now has a history of worship, women and erotism were once represented as goddesses like Ishtar. “It’s crazy to see how western culture, basically Christianity, nullified some of the most beautiful human expressions such as death and sexuality.” This is the reason why the artist also represents figures like the devil in his work, for he believes our psyche is still tormented by the exact same demons as 3000 years ago.
The Marqués de Sade is another of Alejandro’s great influences; not because of violence, but because of the philosophical meaning in his texts. “El Marqués encouraged going against the crowd, and today, erotism and the image of woman can still be so sinful… I am trying to weaken this discourse and visualize the essence of characters such as Salomé, through my pieces,” says Alejandro. He is especially interested in women of the Bible that rebelled for the sake of individuality, and believes this represents the connection with our unconscious. “It’s a game between Thelema, Kundalini, the beauty and the poison in the snake… The search for desire to access the soul,” mentions Alejandro.
The occult artist’s first approach to contemporary art was performance, but he had also been painting and experimenting with ceramics for a while. His latest pieces have been sculptures/reliefs of the anime icon, Sailor Moon. “Regularly, what I like the most is what I haven’t done before. To discover something new. A teacher once told me that we must learn to sum up our speeches, learn to dilute things. To disguise them a bit and turn them into phantoms.”
Alejandro says that if he could grab a mezcal with anyone, he would share a glass of Madre with William Blake or John Milton, because the potion would easily open the doors to their minds for him. “For me, art has to do with the comprehension and understanding of the inner self. I like not knowing but having the confidence that something inside me does.”
Follow Alejandro: @alejandrogarciacontreras