Negrito Baila Zamba

ALEJANDRO COLUNGA (1948-)

Negrito Baila Zamba
Mixed media on paper
42 x 31 ½ inches

Mexican artist Alejandro Colunga is a visual artist working in the Latin American tradition of surrealism and fantasy. He is part of the movement referred to as Nueva Mexicanidad. As a young man, he studied architecture and later joined a circus before devoting himself to painting. Colunga refers to the Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo as personally influential in his own artwork.  An admiration for Mexican folk art is evident in his work, as is a familiarity with the art of India and other cultures. Colunga has studied in the workshops of master artisans in Mexico and often uses traditional techniques in ceramics and wood sculpture.  Much of Colunga’s imagery is based on folk stories he heard as a child. Characters like La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) and Chamuco (The Devil) often appear in his work. He uses the device of exaggerating human anatomy (such as filling the canvas with a single figure whose head is tiny) along with exuberant color to create a sense of “bewitchment.”  This trickster – satirist from Guadalajara often begins with classical Mexican forms, themes and motifs, and then corrupts them, so to speak, by bombarding them with foreign elements. Colunga renders biting visual testimonies of a culture in constant defense of its own value.