A Signature Year: Convergence

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In the Convergence series, completed in 2002, Salazar taps into a rich vein of Mesoamerican mythology.  He painted 20 images in this series, honoring the profound value of this number to ancient Mexicans.  Twenty, in a concrete sense, stood for 10 fingers and 10 toes, and in the first exhibition of these paintings in Mexico, Salazar recalled, “The number [20] came back to me as I began the [series]… [for] in the Indian language the number ‘twenty’ is descriptive of a person, a complete person.”  In a garden below his window in San Miguel de Allende, a giant Olmec head loomed, a life-size replica of those iconic artifacts of Mesoamerica’s first civilization (Olmec, ca. 1400-200 BCE).  In some of the paintings in this series figures with faces reminiscent of Olmec heads emerge from the earth tones of chapapote (a natural tar that rises to the surface of the ground).  Salazar worked this substance into the Stonehenge paper of this series.  In another painting of three enigmatic individuals (priests?) cloaked in chapapote Salazar references the ancient indigenes’ sacred preoccupation with death.  Across the series images seem to enter into anthropomorphic forms or resolve into abstract rhythms of their presence.  Vulnerable to age and memory, yet at the height of his creative powers, in the Convergence series Salazar merges the subconscious and the mythological.  The very geology of the earth, aptly represented by the chapapote, gives birth to the psyche, to the mythic presence of the earth, to life and death.  Indeed, Salazar referred to the experience of painting this series as “an act of communion.” John Ripton, PhD, Curator

NOTES: From the Artist Salazar

January 2015 a number of the Convergence paintings were selected by Dr. Ripton for my solo show at the Union of Maine Visual Artists Gallery in Portland, Maine: Convergence paintings Numbers: 3, 4, 5, 7,  11, 13, 15, 17, 18 and 19. A video of the exhibition was filmed by CTN Director Tom Handel: Salazar : Mexico Years.