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'Reclinados' by Andre Filipek-Magana at Prairie, Chicago

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In Reclinados, André Filipek-Magaña presents figurative sculptures that evoke and evolve the decorative language of pre-Columbian Colima ceramics, an art form practiced in Western Mexico from roughly 300 BCE to 500 CE. In the sculptures, reclining figures adorned with the trappings of ballplayers – citizens who engaged in both sport and war to resolve civil disputes in pre-Columbian society – clutch tacos, styrofoam cups, pastries, and street corn. Laid across the gallery floor, the horizontal ballplayers might initially recall the aftermath of a battle, but upon closer inspection the scene is one of enjoyment, leisure, humor, and celebration.

Today Colima ceramics find themselves in the collections of museums and his-torical institutions across the world. Small in stature, weathered, and contained on plinths and within vitrines, they follow the Western institutional script of his-toricization: inactive, memorialized, and frozen-in-time. One may also find these sculptural motifs deployed in artisanal souvenirs in West Mexico. Constructed in a similar fashion and with similar materials, these contemporary works are designed to replicate their archived counterparts.

These petite ceramic sculptures have become primary symbols of Western Mex-ico’s roots prior to its colonization, Spanish influence, and capitalization. Fili-pek-Magaña’s contemporary variations are scaled up figures interspersed with common objects of present-day Mexican identity, suggesting a lineage between ancient Mesoamerican people and contemporary Mexican culture. With Reclina-dos, Filipek-Magaña subverts outmoded colonial notions of barbarism in pre-Co-lumbian Mexican society by presenting a scene that is radically relaxed.

25.5.19 — 7.7.19

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