ALEJANDRO MAZÓN

Dr. John Angeline PhD | MAZÓN COMES INTO HIS OWN

Although few artists seem to practice it, one of the most intriguing lessons about scale is that sometimes a work can be stronger when rendered in a smaller size. Alejandro Mazón is unafraid to make dense, bold statements in intimately scaled works whose pristine executions, tight lines, and intense colors place them in the same universe as Persian miniatures and Flemish oils. As he has before, with these works Mazón has chosen to juxtapose different themes and cultural references to create evocative no-narratives. These images may often be discordant and personal, and are rarely explicitly related. Such dream-like, episodic imagery has led to the inevitable comparisons with Frida Kahlo, although in truth this comparison is somewhat facile.

This suite of pictures retains the intimate scale and evocative figuration of earlier pieces, but these works have been further enlivened by their backdrops, which are from vintage printed papers from the 1930’s. Arranged as long freezes or cosmic discs, the works are populated by a recurring set of
symbols that are at once personal and assessable. Mazón adds to this visual dynamic by continually shifting the figure/ground structure of his works. Using the most contemporary of pictorial means he continuously affects an aesthetic that simultaneously is antiquated, historically validated, and tongue-in-cheek.

With this series Mazón finally seems to have come into his own. Works of this scale and style risk appearing too precious or clever, but Mazón shows a self-awareness of his own practice. Some of the art historical figures he includes in these pieces have been previously seen in art work by Cindy Sherman and the Starn twins, among others. Other artistic references that Mazon incorporates include Blake and the English romantic tradition in general. The appropriation of gentile art forms (antique papers and miniature painting) to cast into question historical scenes that are sometimes unpleasant is a strategy that he shares with Kara Walker. Like Walker, Mazón deepens his investigation into Colonialism by working from both sides of the fence.

Strictly speaking, none of Alejandro Mazón’s strategies have been pioneered by, or are unique to him. Yet the very encyclopedic nature of Mazón’s references, the wit with which they are employed and combined, and the freshness of their execution show that the artist’s methods have much life in them yet.


Dr. John Angeline PhD

Dr. Angeline received his PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the University of New York. He teaches at the Parson’s School of Design, and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at the Museum of Modern Art. Dr. Angeline was the recipient of the Peggy Guggenheim fellowship in 1993.