Engraver and painter, Edgar Argaez, born in Bacalar, Quintana Roo, studied painting and engraving in the Xalapa fine arts school, his work focus mainly in graphics, painting, and recently, interventions. Part of his imagery comes from music, porn, and pagan images. He is a frescos painter (his former training), and nowadays he lives between Oaxaca and Bacalar. —Artecocodrilo / Interview and English translation by Adriana Chavarria
Since I was 13 years old I’ve produced trestle paintings, but I have just a couple of years doing this activity with a vision and professional intention. I have to admit that I am quite nerd and intense about knowledge and techniques in fine arts. My incursion in graphical arts diversified and multiplied my work. Ever since I joined the group I haven’t stopped, I am a bit obsessed with my productions.
Tell me, how you jumped from the last work (images-desire) made in small format to the intervention in the ruins?
Something that only a few know is that I have a muralist origin and training. Many years ago before my professional training in the Universidad Veracruzana, I worked on a piece, naïve and kitsch kind of vernacular-vulgar character in the street. During my studies, I participated, on my own, in a couple of monumental murals in public buildings in Xalapa with Melchor Peredo, a former collaborator of Siqueiros.
Because of this, I know the fresco technique and the Mexican school fresco painting too, a couple of valuable gifts, another manifestation of my intensity that makes a whole completeness to me. These experiences develop in me a special hyperbole, the mega-formats, and the transit in big spaces. The image- desire work was mostly done in formats that exceed the 1.50 meters, a respectable enough size to work with oil, but that is minimized with the mural. So it doesn’t mean really a change of what I was doing in the street and what I am doing now, but in topics it does change.
I made a triple inverse jump from the porno-grammatical, the appropriation of the porn image, the erotic juggles and the body disappearance supposed an intimate and reflective work about the image and the erotism; to the gigantic existential chimeras born with “pimp my ruins” which is a manifestation of the instant contemplation, and the random to express the will. The images of “Pimp My Ruins” are a hybrid product result of my approaching to street art, Zen exercises, and a huge baggage of visual culture that argues the vernacular and global imaginaries.
TCR: For the “Pimp My Ruins” project do you ask for permission, or just appropriate the space? Why were you interested in doing the project, was it about the intervention in a big space or specifically those ruins, or could be any other place? And why?
I neither asked for pardon nor asked for permission, I believe if I had asked for permission nothing had been possible. It was been a while since I was looking for an interesting enough space for making a monumental intervention, but I had forgotten I had it at home. When I come to visit this Caribbean region, I work as a tourist guide in my brother’s boat touring in the Bacalar lagoon. And this way I found my self again with the polemic “ship” ruin. In an island on a channel of about a kilometer of length, the Mayan culture constructed this strategic channel, to serve as a shortcut in the exit towards the sea. Hereabouts the whole Mayan trade crosses by, later the conquerors constructed customs for maritime control, the pirates who destroyed the village also crossed by this spot, and the settlers also crossed by.
A businessman constructed the building, illegally invading the zone when he started the construction. The people living near, more out of envy and for historical reasons rather than for environmental concerns, pressed to the local government that he didn’t get the permission to construct. They bothered him until he desisted, leaving behind a horrible garbage dump.
Another businessman cleaned it up and painted a billboard to promote beer. His enemies destroyed everything he constructed until he got tired of it and left. There were, and still are many interests in there, on night of my first week in there, some one lit fire over the mangrove that grew over the building. The sailors asked me about my intentions, the American business men too, and the Mexican marines asked me why I cross by the lagoon in the middle of the night. Obviously no body understood, (neither believed me) my statements of paranoia, intervention, and contemporary art, so the beginning was a little bit hard, everybody was surprised by my action, because everybody had wanted to appropriate that place for business at least once, but nobody had the financial and legal ability to do it because it belongs to Federal field. I jump all over that protocol, because nobody had a strong argument to stop me that wasn’t by forcing me. It’s not a building constructed by the government, so the couldn’t punish me. But fortunately sailors and youth groups supported me, and I almost became the main tourist attraction.