Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with Mexico: the country, the culture and the people. But it wasn’t until I lived in the US that I become obsessed with the food, albeit ‘Tex – Mex’ but to me at the point in my life Mexican. It was during my first trip down south from Washington DC to Mexico that I became truly enthralled. Coming from rural Ireland it is hard not to image a place that was so foreign from my childhood: a place of Mexican cowboys, spaghetti westerns and very glamorous dark haired beauties.
Over the years my travels turned into work assignments and I got to spend more time in this vast country. It was these trips were I learned more about the complex Mexican culture and the connection with Ireland. My Mexican interest was revived when I became friends with VULGO contributor Elias Escobedo Baez, a Mexican living in Ireland. He shared with me his Mexico, one where tacos were made from corn and chimichangas were never born.
At his behest I created this body of work for a private showing in his home in March 2013. “Mexican memories: an Irish Mexican Journey” was initially launched by Elias during St Patrick’s weekend 2013. To launch such a personal portrayal of Mexico to so many Mexicans and to the Mexican Ambassador was both terrifying and humbling… Mexican memories: an Irish Mexican odyssey reflects on my journey through their homeland and through my life. These paintings aim to capture the beauty of the country, and the strength of her people. It covers the green of the mountains, the sand of the beaches and taste of the tacos.
Through my various journeys I was forced to deal with challenging my preconceptions about Mexico, its culture, food and people. It is this struggle which my paintings reflect. This body of work represents me, at times uncomfortable internal debate, seeking to understand and accept the huge contrasts which met me at every turn throughout the country. I tried to challenge myself to marry my childhood preconceptions, the Latino culture of the USA and the many Irish patriots who gave their lives to Mexico. I also battle to justify the rampant poverty with the overwhelming wealth; the physical hardship with the spiritual strength and power. I still seek to understand the primal work of nature and the seemingly random nature of life, and death.
This exhibition reflects my preoccupation with my own on-going emotional and spiritual journey. As a result, some find my work suggestive, rather than representational. It seeks to question, rather than answer, and draws primarily on the spiritual. There is a suggestion of chaos throughout this body of work and a strong sense of the journey undertaken towards an image. As in all of my work, I use colour and texture to explore and explain my landscape, both spiritual and physical, thus resulting in the creations of a fixed, specific representation of a brief moment in time.
First published in Vulgo.ie