Sculptor Eduardo Chillida used to say his Basque Country is made of a black light, particular to that place and its people, and a darkness that he wanted to portray in his work. He also said that light is totally opposite to the light from the Mediterranean, which is white and luminous. To him, Greece gave the impression of being born out of the physical light from the Aegean Sea, and thought that clarity was what led the Greek man to discover his other light, that of reason and criticism.
I am not European, I am Mexican, but I believe in the light Chillida spoke about, the one a man projects from within. I believe in it because I have seen it in many places—at the Mediterranean, in northern Europe and elsewhere—and I have always known none of those lights are exactly like mine. In Europe, Russia or North America, black has a certain thinness, a certain elegance, like the northern air. I believe men from the north get their gloominess from that light wind, as they do from the cold whiteness that makes them company for months and is so familiar to them. That is why Chillida's black looks so similar to that of Serra or Soulages, because theirs is the black of the white man.
As a Mexican I can say our light inclines also towards black, yet its darkness is very distinctive and particular. Mexico is made of another tone of black, warmer and more solemn, but fiercer too. It is different because its origin is diverse as well. Ours is the black of the shadows in the desert, of the night among the jungle, of the depths in the Pacific Ocean. It is a black made from variety, not monotony; a black with ingredients; a mixed black, like a mole, a salsa or a chocolate; a black that doesn't come from white, but from color. Such is the black that constitutes our Mexican light.
There is a belief—which permeates both Mexican and foreign imagination— that Mexico is a place bursting with life, colored to the extreme by the cheerfulness of its people. I believe it to be the complete opposite. The lure that Mexico can provoke comes from its ruthless nature, from being a place that holds mercy for nothing and for no one. The reason why it is so often associated with life is, precisely, because Mexico is like life, implacable and atrocious. But Mexico is not colorful, Mexico is black because of color. Mexicans dress everything in colors to distract ourselves—and others— from our true inner darkness, from the spirit that makes us at all times solemn with death and never with life. Color is both our construction and our contradiction. To verify this, one only needs to take a look at a box of Olinalá, a 'metate' while being used, a painting by Siqueiros or a classic 'sarape.' Between the motifs—filling all the free space untouched by color—darkness is never missing because, in Mexico, color obeys a single order: Summon the spirit of black.
The cause of this contradiction is evident: We Mexicans have never been able to reconcile with ourselves and accept the guidance of our own light. To assimilate the Spanish language, catholicism, revolution, democracy, capitalism, and many other ideas, has lead us to live in complete perplexity for centuries. This is simply because our spirit has never been fully compatible with anything coming from strange lights—as dazzling and magnificent as they may seem.
However, the spirit of Mexico has not left us. In spite of everything external it still remains, presenting itself discretely, in the background. But it is us, Mexicans, who need to bring it up again to the surface if we want to support our identity on our true identity. That is why I decided to start working on a series of paintings that reveal our inner darkness unapologetically.
Those paintings do not intend to dress anything up, but to put color at the service of black and show what has always been under the clothes. They are meant to be a reconciliation—my reconciliation— with our spirit, our light, and our own black, the Mexican Black.