Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Rob Curran, Fri., Feb. 2, 2001
Anacronistas: The Brothers Molotov
through February 24,
With blown glass and materials from the city dump, Einar and Jamex de la Torre create havoc. They arrange wacky marriages. Cuahtemoc, a representation of the last Aztec emperor, embodies the marriage of motorbike torso, hot sauce bottle heart, and plastic skull face with metal rod toes and shattered glass base. Presiding over the marriage at Cuahtemoc's midriff is a "bishoprick," the de la Torres' Joycean reminder to the Catholic Church that a miter looks just like a helmet. All of this takes place in colors as bright as stained glass in the sunshine. This piece could adorn an Internet cafe, a 15th-century Spanish altar, or an Aztec household and still be shocking.
The brothers from San Diego via Guadalajara remind us that icons can be as engaging as representative art. Echoing Diego Rivera's splayed mosaic of the Aztec water god in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, Einar and Jamex offer Austin Coyolxaqui, an Aztec warrior god who emerged from his mother's womb fully grown to slaughter all of his siblings. Rivera's god sprawls at the base of a fountain in stone relief; the de la Torres' Coyolxaqui comes on a satellite dish in carpet relief. The god glows thanks to colored attire. Reflecting Aztec culture in contemporary Mexico, Coyolxaqui is dismembered. Pink quilting fabric runs around the border of the dish. Dotted around the vinyl, flowers with crushed aluminum can blooms vie for attention with blown-glass Rolling Stones lips.
With 9:10, Einar had the opportunity to blow and smelt his own body clock. A piece of empathy with the female cycle, 9:10 features a vagina splitting the face of an alarm clock with a pair of breasts situated where the alarm bells would have been.
Ornamental shields dominate one wall. Amongst them is Angry God, an image of glass and metal bearing a demon surrounded by happy faces. Something about the happy faces (which are based on the face in the center of the Aztec sun calendar) unsettle the mind more deeply than the hideous demon. In these surroundings, Orguilo calls the eyes like a siren to a pair of sailors. A beautiful woman in a bikini sits on a beautiful car, batting her eyelids like Daisy, the car-loving woman in Cool Hand Luke. The Virgin of Guadalupe peeps out from a cloud in the corner of the painting. This mixture would be absurd if it did not comprise reality in Mexico and the border regions. On many dashboards in these areas, icons of the BVM sit right next to porno queens.
El Nino's Pyramid, a piece the De La Torre brothers installed in Mexic-Arte in January specifically for this exhibition, brings many of their themes to a new level. A 15-foot-high, 20-foot-squared-base pyramid in the classic Aztec style, the installation is upholstered like a Cadillac with green vinyl padding. A trail of blood drips down the steps, which are made of the transparent plastic associated with bar decor.
Aiming at the pyramid, a string of three-foot-long crucifixes painted like B-52 bombers arc down from the ceiling in fighter plane formation. This equation of Christianity and killing machines tallies up over the last 500 years of Mexican history. The face from the center of the sun calendar, like a caricatured Aztec Lord appears in plastic relief on every level of the pyramid. In some cases, the face appears to be half-melted, in some cases broken; like all of America's surviving indigenous cultures, everywhere the face is distorted. In possible reference to the murderous riot police in Mexico City, 1968, strong arms burst out from different parts of the pyramid bearing bloody, broken bottles.
In the next gallery, innovative Adrian Parra's exhibition "Sanitized for Your Protection" mocks the same computerized dreams that the de la Torre brothers want to ruin: neatly arranged soap dispensers, a hive of air-freshener clips, one-legged creatures with Barbara Bush hairdos. To escape sleepy society, the brothers blew up a television; Cambio de Canal (Change of Channel) is how they put it back together. A plastic relief of the Last Supper sits on top of a TV, the U.S. sports playing on the screen obscured by the Aztec calendar printed over it. The whole television forms one prong of a Hebrew menorah. At the bottom of the candle stand, empty bottles of beer indicate that people worship all these icons in the same way.
Like Molotov, their hip-hop countrymen, the de la Torres love uncompromising, irreverent fun. I'll drink to that, brothers.