Critics’ Picks

Samuel Guerrero, No me quites paz, 2020, 3-D engraving on glass, 4 x 4 x 4''.

Samuel Guerrero, No me quites paz, 2020, 3-D engraving on glass, 4 x 4 x 4''.

Mexico City

Samuel Guerrero

Ladrón Galeria
Dr. Barragán 383
February 23–March 31, 2021

In his exhibition “Observatorio” (Observatory), Samuel Guerrero dissects the pictorial and ideological convention of linear perspective, which was introduced to Mexico after Hernán Cortés’s conquest of the Aztec empire in 1519 and which continued to develop with the colonization of the Americas and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century imperialism. In the process of exploring beyond the bounds of this Western tradition, the artist imagines worlds that transgress linear time and technological determinism. In the light installation Reflexiones sobre el horizonte (Reflections on the Horizon, all works 2020), Guerrero disturbs the idea of a finite horizon by refracting a laser against a copper disk emblazoned with la Piedra del Sol (The Stone of the Sun), commonly known as the Aztec Calendar. The sun appears to rise behind this immaterial and clearly artificial horizon line, whose power—for Guerrero—lies in its cosmological potential, beyond empirical observation.

In the hologram video installation Oráculo para nuestros tiempos [Beso azteca] (Oracle for Our Times [Aztec Kiss]), Guerrero further explores the sistema sagrado (sacred system) of mystical omens and other openly interpretable messages that have been devalued by Western rationalism. A trio of 3-D engraved-glass sculptures—Fantasma del pasado quiso robar el trono del jaguar rojo (A Ghost from the Past Tried to Take the Red Jaguar’s Throne), No me quites paz (Don’t Take My Peace), and Brazos robóticos labrando culturo (Robotic Arms Cultivating)are brightly underlit, appearing like floating cosmos in the dark room. Each presents a timescape in which highly sophisticated robots intermingle with Mesoamerican figures and loose reinterpretations of pre-Columbian motifs. Here, the spiritual and the scientific coexist, with neither taken as the absolute truth or privileged over the other. The gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca in Oráculo, on the other hand, are specific mythological references. Guerrero depicts them kissing: a prefiguration, perhaps, of queer decolonial futurity.