For millennia, numerous cultures have used the innate act of drawing and the ceramic medium to record their existence. From these artifacts, we can form an understanding and various interpretations of the cultural paradigms, sociopolitical practices, mythologies, and the human experience of the worlds that created them.
It is this anthropological aspect that propels my work in its creative endeavor, using the sculptural forms as vehicles to compose linear and fragmented narratives.
Altered by the imagination, memory, and the like, my work engages the idea of recording selected aspects of contemporary society, creating spaces for mystery, speculation, and wonder, in methods as old and universal as human creativity itself.
Working in both terracotta and porcelain, Los Angeles-based artist Gerardo Monterrubio (b.1979, México) imbues his ceramic sculptures with complex familial narratives, lived realities and cultural mythologies. drawing with underglaze, Monterrubio envelopes the entirety of his object's surface in graphic imagery, suffusing his forms with psychological, social and autobiographical import. The artist’s hand-built forms, ranging from lipsticks and male busts to sculptures that recall the Pre-columbian era, offer overlapping stories that recount the unnerving beauty and brutality of bare life.
Monterrubio draws upon autobiographical experiences in both México and Los Angeles, oral histories, cultural knowledge and catholic imagery to time travel from the colonial past to the (still colonial) present, suturing fact with invention, blurring the ways we remember, and conjuring the daymares of identity formation; images of life's "ultimates"– birth and death – flow seamlessly into each other and come crashing in. The artist’s profoundly personal work mines formative memories including his family’s annual, multi-day walking pilgrimage to the shrine of the virgin of Juquila, which became the point of departure for connecting Pre-columbian traditions with catholic ritual. Additionally, Marcelina's flood recalls a family story of a matriarch who survived and persevered despite numerous challenges and atrocities including the death of her children. The work’s background culls images drawn from the photographs of Juan Rulfo (1917-1986), an artist and author who documented remote rural areas in México and whose writings employed a colloquial storytelling style that Monterrubio's grandparents echoed to connect myth to identity and beliefs to values.
Monterrubio's signal desire is to communicate his experiences with unmediated honesty, affording the viewer an opportunity to experience his lived reality while offering a critique of modern society and violence throughout time. Monterrubio's work is a generous, unyielding, unmediated and often harrowing glimpse into his experience as an Oaxacan immigrant who emigrated to California in 1989: each sculpture invokes a story across culture and context. the works demand to be experienced from all sides, physicalizing the whirling and disorientating passage of time – lives recorded in clay.
The Something Machine, NY