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 historical institutions across the world. Small in stature, weathered, and contained on plinths and within vitrines, they follow the Western institutional script of historicization: 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 Mexico’s roots prior to its colonization, Spanish influence, and capitalization. Filipek-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 Reclinados, Filipek-Magaña subverts outmoded colonial notions of barbarism in pre-Columbian Mexican society by presenting a scene that is radically relaxed.
André Filipek-Magaña is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Filipek-Magaña’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Holding Contemporary (Portland, OR: 2019); American Medium (New York City, NY: 2018); 77 Mulberry (New York City, NY: 2018); and 100% Gallery (San Francisco, CA: 2018); recent group exhibitions include Hotel Art Pavillion (Brooklyn, NY: 2019); Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT: 2018); Alyssa Davis (New York, NY: 2018); and Freight Gallery (San Antonio, TX: 2018).