FROM ROOTS TO WINGS: CONTEMPORARY TRADITION
Espacio Huakal joins the traditions of a family and community that has revolutionized the world of Mexican design, art, and artisany on a global scale. The collaboration between Jacobo & María Ángeles and Huakal arises from the desire to share ancestral techniques with an innovative and imaginative vision.
The Copal tree, sacred in the Zapotec tradition, is the main source of the carved wooden figures known as "tonas" and "nahuales," commonly referred to in Mexican tradition as “Alebrijes”. These pieces are distinguished by their colorful painting and the incorporation of iconographic designs that hold deep symbolic value.
This exhibition brings together five collections of the most recent artistic creations from Jacobo & María Ángeles, showcasing creative and inventive work through artistic and artisanal practices. It also narrates the history of the heritage passed down through generations in the craft of carving and painting wooden sculptures in the community of San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca.
The Zapotec Calendar collection arises from extensive research initiated in the late 90s, and enriched over time. By giving life to the craft of carving wooden figures, this collection becomes a practice that goes beyond the artistic, embracing spiritual dimensions as well.
The Zapotec Calendar consists of 13 months, each comprising 20 days. Each day is governed by an animal, creating a cycle that repeats month after month. Iguana, coyote, turtle, chameleon, snake, armadillo, deer, rabbit, frog, dog, monkey, owl, opossum, jaguar, eagle, mockingbird, butterfly, snail, fish, hummingbird: these are 20 animals interpreted from different worldviews, families, and ethnic groups. Animals that inhabit various regions of the State of Oaxaca.
Jacobo and María Ángeles proudly present this series of pieces with a wealth of knowledge. A project ranging from miniature silver jewelry, the classic wood carving, to the conception of monumental exercises. As a gratitude for their 28 years, the workshop is pleased to present the origin of their artistic understanding, also inspiring the worldview of "tonas" and "nahuales."
The history of the workshop with the Zapotec Calendar emerges from the peculiarities of memory, myth, legend, and the coincidences in the primary values of the culture. An allegory to the construction of a sense of belonging and identity. Being, and knowing oneself as Zapotec.
It originates from a profound reflection exploring the boundaries between what is considered beautiful and what is rejected as unpleasant. The exhibition challenges the commonly associated anxiety with insects considered pests by incorporating meticulous details of Zapotec iconography, silver, and gold leaf finishes on copal wood sculptures. The narrative of the work emphasizes the uncomfortable engagement with the plague, questioning the relationship between the beautiful and the repugnant, challenging the observer's perception. The exhibition provokes reflection on what is desired, beautiful, and our connection to what we want to possess, posing a central question: Who is truly the plague?
A collection highlighting the historical relationship between dogs and humans, specifically the little-known breed from pre-Hispanic Mexico: the Tlalchichi. This short-statured dog was represented in ceramic vessels from the shaft tomb culture, and the workshop draws inspiration from them to create copal wood carvings with playful postures.
In pre-Hispanic Mexico, there were four dog breeds, and the tlalchichi, originating from Western Mesoamerica, had a close connection to mortuary practices, accompanying the deceased in shaft tombs. The workshop's collection recreates these dogs in various postures and colorful outfits inspired by pre-Hispanic codices, using carving, painting, and gold leaf application techniques.
The commitment of the Jacobo & María Ángeles Workshop to preserving pre-Hispanic identity is reflected in the collection, aiming to merge past and present through Mesoamerican worldview. The exhibition highlights the importance of dogs in the daily and religious lives of people in Western Mesoamerica, contributing to the preservation and transmission of pre-Hispanic heritage.
This collection of meditating rabbits is a captivating and innovative artistic expression. Carved with mastery, these pieces evoke serenity and peace through the image of rabbits immersed in meditation. Their uniqueness lies in the choice of pastel colors adorning each figure, conveying a sense of harmony and positive energy.
The rabbit, an integral part of the Zapotec calendar, becomes a timeless symbol in these sculptures. Through their meditative posture, the rabbits become messengers of tranquility, guiding those who contemplate them to a state of inner calm.
These sculptures are not only works of art but also bearers of a cultural connection rooted in the Zapotec worldview. The meditation represented in these sculptures is not only aesthetic but also a reminder of the importance of introspection and connection with nature. Thus, these pieces become silent witnesses to the spiritual and artistic richness of the Zapotec tradition, revealing the profound relationship between art, nature, and inner exploration.
The "Tribes" collection emerges as a unique expression of the connection between Zapotec art and tradition. These meticulously decorated wooden carvings with vibrant paintings draw inspiration from the animals of the Zapotec calendar. Each family member is represented by a specific animal, associated with both the "tona" and the "nahual" assigned to them at birth, their protective and guiding animals.
The magic of "Tribes" lies in its ability to reflect the complex network of family relationships through the careful selection of symbolic animals. From the majesty of the jaguar to the cunning of the rabbit, each sculpture encapsulates the unique essence of each family member. The choice of the size of the sculptures is based on the family rank within this system, creating a visual hierarchy that reflects the internal structure and dynamics.
This project goes beyond simple artistic creation; it is a bridge between the past and present, merging Zapotec ancestral wisdom with contemporary expression. Each carving is a visual testimony to cultural richness and the complex connection between each individual and their environment. "Tribes" is not just a collection from the workshop but a tribute to the diversity and unity that defines each family over time.