Eduardo Abaroa

Article Bio Works Merits Projects
crossroads:
sexuality, violence
genre(subgenre):
Visual Arts (installation art, object)
instruments:
Bandoneon
region:
America, Central
country/territory:
Mexico
city:
Mexico City
created on:
May 31, 2003
last changed on:
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Article

Mexican Moralities

Eduardo Abaroa was born in 1968 in Mexico City and has been exhibiting his work internationally since the mid-1990s. He often produces seemingly absurd installations and models that combine a strikingly colorful and toy-like choice of materials with severe, often depressing or outright violent subject matter.
Some of Abaroa’s earliest works, such as “Freak Collection” (1995), a series of surreal toys, exemplify his method. “Freak Collection” consists of a group of fantastic characters, like the “Average Psychopath” or the “Damned Hummingbird” but it also has some seemingly more normal protagonists in stock, like “Dick West,” a cowboy, or the “Little Clown.” Each character is sculpted in green cast resin and individually packaged in a plastic and cardboard display box, not unlike Barbie dolls or Action figures, and comes complete with accessories (the psychopath has a shovel and a chainsaw). Like their real toy counterparts, each character’s physique is exaggerated to the point of caricature, but unlike a Barbie or a Ninja Turtle, these exaggerations don’t follow an ideal of beauty, virility, or virtue. Instead, the characters are marked by obscenely enlarged sexual organs. The hummingbird features a penis almost the size of the rest of his surreal body, the clown is naked and has sagging breasts, and the cowboy’s male organ is attached to his lasso. His series “Anatomical Impertinence” (1995?) also features a group of narrative characters, rendered as children’s toys, but this time the figures displays the nativity scene, a well-established iconographic reference. Abaroa skews traditional iconography by inverting the narrative’s and protagonist’s roles; while the three magi carry their horses and the animals adore the child, Mary and Joseph stand back on all fours.

Another series of model figures, “Aromas del Oficio” ("Scents of the Trade", 1997), continues Abaroa’s interest in the deeper sides of the human psyche. “Scents of the Trade” consists of eight small-scale model arrangements, each presenting a protagonist undergoing a form of torture. Each of the characters is symbolized by a small plastic skeleton, and their titles, functions, or roles are explained in texts that accompany the installations. Some figures are not immediately identifiable, while others are clearly recognizable as a legislator, a prostitute, and a philosopher. As the texts explain, all of them have committed a crime against an unnamed administrative institution, presumably some sort of totalitarian and oppressive regime. The prostitute is tied to the mouth of a small toy cannon because she laughed about a powerful client’s penis, and the philosopher is impaled and broken on the wheel because he gained insight and understanding into concepts like truth and morality. The Mexican critic Ruben Gallo has described the work as follows: “The world inhabited by these skeletons is the exact reverse of the utopia imagined by More and other idealists; this is a real dystopia, a prototypically totalitarian world whose core principles are closed-mindedness, concealment and hatred of ideas” (Art Press, No. 243, Feb. 1999).

Abaroa’s work “Planta Ocular” ("Ocular Plant", 1999) does not involve characters from popular imagination, but it does continue his taste for surreal and boldly strange situations. This work is made up of a plastic plant (daisy), which contains an eyeball in the center of its blossom. A rose is growing upside down out of the bottom of the eyeball, and a threatening bee or wasp, suspended in mid air, is approaching the plant. The insect is cast from a pale yellow, intensely coiled material that is reminiscent of a human brain. The horrific constellation opens up a range of references and suggestions, exploiting the visual semblance between the white petals and dark core of the daisies and the eyeball and capitalizing on the prevalence of insect protagonists in horror films.

At the basis of Abaroa’s oddly playful and deeply disturbing installations lies a bitter critique of the perversity that rules the state of affairs in the world today. They also direct attention to the sometimes even more disturbing strangeness of the real children’s toys that we have grown used to seeing around. Gallo has called this “Melancholia Mexicana,” a melancholy triggered by “the collapse of the values that had constituted the essence of Mexico’s national identity throughout almost the entire century.” The jarring contrast between the playfulness of Abaroa’s materials and his violent subject matter, equals, according to Gallo, the “paradoxical structure of our societies. ... behind the brilliant coloring of the Prozac capsule the most perverse agent of homogenizations and normalization is hidden.”
Author: Christian Rattemeyer

Bio

date of birth: 27.06. 1968 (Mexico City)

The artist and art critic lives and works in Los Angeles, USA.


studies:

1988-92
study at the University of Fine Arts Mexico City

1999-01
Master of Fine Arts/California Institute of The Arts, USA


Works

Further Activities

Film / TV,
2000
1997-1998 regular film critics in "Reforma", one of the most important journals in Mexico City 1996-1998 art critics in the "Curare Bulletin", Mexico City 1993-1995 foundation of and assistance in the group of artists "Temistocles 44 "

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
2005 "Metamorfosis“, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico "I´m he as you are he as you are me as we are all together.”, Central de Arte, Guadalajara, Mexico "Declaraciones”, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain 2004 "Strange Planet“, Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Desing Gallery, Atlanta, USA "Made in Mexico”, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA 2003 "Art 34 Basel”, Stand Galería OMR, Basel, Switzerland "Within Temporary Crossroads”, Central de Arte en WTC, Guadalajara, Mexico "Mexico City: Eine Ausstellung über die Wechselkurse von Körpern und Werten“, KW Kunst-Werke Berlin e.V., Berlin, Germany "Monitor 2“, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA 2002 "Axis Mexico: Common Objects and Cosmopolitan Actions”, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, USA "Mesoamérica: oscilaciones y artificios”, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain "Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values”, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, USA "Art 33 Basel”, Stand Galería OMR, Basel, Switzerland "ARCO´02”, Stand Galería OMR, Madrid, Spain 2001 "La Persistencia de la Imagen“, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico 1999 "Economía de Mercato”, Galería Kurimanzutto, Mexico City, Mexico 1998 "Cambio”, Sandra Gering, New York, USA ”Invisible Chase”, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, USA 1997 "InSite’97”, Nuevos proyectos de arte público del continente americano, San Diego, USA "Inauténtico: Hecho en México”, Museo de las Artes, Guadalajara, Mexico "Noche de los 1997 papeles”, Centro Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, Mexico "Subasta Sanmiguelenses Pro CASA”, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 1995 "Configura 2“, Dialog Der Kulturen, Erfurt, Germany ”It’s my Life, I’m Going to Change the World”, ACME Gallery, Los Angeles, USA "Acné”, Arena México, Guadalajara, Mexico "La demanda está en barata”, Galería OMR, Mexico City, Mexico "Performance”, X’Teresa, Mexico City, Mexico "Acné”, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico 1994 "Performance“, X’Teresa, Mexico City, Mexico 1993 "Dinastía“, Museo del Chopo, Mexico, Mexico "The Return of the Cadavre Exquis”, The Drawing Center, New York, USA "La regla del juego”, Temístocles 44, Mexico City, Mexico 1992 "Performance“, Museo del Chopo, Mexico City, Mexico 1991 "Madrecitas: obra de pequeño formato”, Pinto Mi Raya , Mexico City, Mexico "Reconsideración del paisaje”, La Sierra Jockey Club, Mexico City, Mexico 1990 "Ya juventud ya“, La Quiñonera, Mexico City, Mexico

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Contiene Glutamato“, Galería OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 2004 "The Body Cavity Inspection Network”, Roberts & Titon Gallery, Los Ángeles, USA "Sólo los personajes cambian“ Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Monterrey, Mexico "Multitasquin“, Galería OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 2003 "Allopathic extreme“, Jack Titon Gallery, New York, USA 2002 "Calimocho Styles”, Galeria OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 1999 "Recent Models & Freaks“, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, USA "Engendros del ocio y la hipocresía”, Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico 1997 "Paseos del éter (línea muerta) control remoto”, Galería OMR, Mexico City, Mexico 1996 "Bitácora artística“, CURARE, Mexico City, Mexico "Artículos epilépticos”, Art Deposit, Mexico City, Mexico 1995 "Reproducción parcial”, Arena México, Mexico City, Mexico "Don’t Give me no Ideas”, Iturralde Gallery, Los Angeles, USA 1994 "Wart Mart: Escultura e instalación”, Corpus Callosum, Mexico City, Mexico

Merits

1998
Fulbright - Garcia Nobles Grant

1992
Jovenes Creadores, scholarship of the National Fund for Culture and Art, Mexiko City

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

MEXartes-berlin.de

The Mexico-festival in Berlin

(15 September 02 - 01 December 02)