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Alebrije Zentik

Zentik is very proud to present our first large-format sculpture within our living gallery, which is an exceptional representation of the famous “Alebrijes” of the cardboard master Pedro Linares, now made by the artist Rafael Baca (ALEBRIJES IK-KAN) exclusively for our artistic project, which is a combination of the authentic cardboard technique but with Mayan symbology and taking 6 species of endangered animals in the Yucatan Peninsula: the snake, the deer, the hummingbird, the spider monkey, the Ocellated turkey and the jaguar, which in turn these 6 species have great significance for Maya iconography and worldview, making this piece a unique work of art with its own personality that is called “Mayabrije”. Born in Zentik to raise awareness among its observers about the importance of recycling, Mayan culture and the care and protection of endangered species.

Artist's Letter and full explanation of his work


This piece that bears the name of: ÁAK'AB AALAN SAÀSIL K'IIN (the great night that stops at dawn) created for "Zentik Project" is the result of this process since it has   all the characteristics of an alebrije in both technique and form,   but it takes its identity from the place where it was created: the city of Valladolid (former Zaci) that is part of the territory where the great Mayan culture flourished. Which, in addition to the great archeological sites, left its mark on his art, his writing and the way they mediate time through the Tzolkin (probably the most accurate calendar that has existed in the history of mankind).

When creating this piece, we have decided to merge 6 representative animals of this region and that formed a very important part of the iconography of the Mayan culture: the snake, the deer, the hummingbird, the spider monkey, the ocellated turkey and the jaguar. All these animals in danger of extinction today.

These beings were part of the worldview of the Mayan people and were mostly archetypal representations of the forces of nature and the energies that converged giving balance to the universe of these peoples.

Some of these animals were so important that their identity and qualities formed   part of the Mayan calendar symbols.

For this reason we decided to decorate this piece with those symbols. Therefore, the viewer can observe the entire Mayan calendar symbols in a coded manner. These groupings of symbols in conjunction with the representation of the spiral that was how the Mayans understood the movement of time, turn this piece into a living and timeless work that speaks to us.

 

In this way we can observe how this "Being" snake mixture with spider monkey limbs, hummingbird wings and oval turkey features shows a catharsis and trance position in which from its jaws it seems to throw from its entrails (read calving) the figure of a deer, while from the wrists arise tearing the skin of the monkey, the claws of a jaguar.

This image together with the symbols, the characteristics of the animals, as well as the colors used in the piece propose us a reading:

The snake , an animal feared by man but at the same time respected as a representation of fertility, wisdom and strength, and for the Mayas particularly related to the belief (among other things ...) that the way in which their skin was decoded was decoded. the universe had been created ... with hummingbird wings that in the Mesoamerican region was conceived as an essential representation of the warrior spirit (see Huitzilopochtli), the spider monkey representing par excellence of art but at the same time of sarcasm and the transgression of the established (see Popol Vuh), the ocellated turkey as a testimony of "extinction" by the hand of man propose a "apocalyptic" image of our present, a moment of crisis in which the denial of instinct (the wild), war ( violence), the lack of empathy and the loss of connection with our environment (read lack of awareness, depredation and destruction of the environment) reaches a dead end and if n ability to sustain itself, enters into crisis and in a promising and hopeful way (author's proposal) implies the advent and emergence of a new stage of awareness, of recovery of our identities, of a new connection with our environment and the emergence of a "new" spirituality based on the conception of the human being as part of a balance where he assumes his responsibility as guardian of creation, all this represented in the face of the deer that is born from the jaws of the great mother and   where strength and momentum as well as and the acceptance and integration of instinct (the shadow) as an essential part of the human being remain   represented in the claws of the jaguar.

Bringing to life a new balance of the dark and luminous aspects of the human being,

At the same time there is a turn to the idea that in the Maya calendar it was established that "time" was a spiral where future events can be predicted from the observation of the past  and be reinterpreted and reinvented, since the spiral unlike the circle (which   when traveling its circumference always returns to the same place), the point where one travels can closely resemble another, but it will always be at a different time ...

In the Mayan calendar it was established that the end of 13 Baktun was the end of an era understood as a great night and the beginning of a dawn that would bring new forms of relationship between the human being and the universe to which it belongs.

We like to think that it is ...

Author: Rafael Baca-IK-KAN

Ik-Kan Alebrijes


In ik-kan after years of research and experimentation we have decided to join the rescue of the original technique of alebrije that emerged from the hands of master Pedro Linares over 80 years ago and to date they keep their children and a small group of artisans in the city from Mexico. We make this decision for two reasons:

The first to help preserve a technique that has been lost over the years and is highly representative of popular art in Mexico; "la cartonerìa", in other places known as mache paper, stone cardboard or pesta letter.

The second for ecological awareness, since although the creation of alebrijes in the Oaxaca style is worldwide recognized, its proliferation in the last 15 years rarely contemplates reforestation programs to maintain a balance in the areas where copal wood is exploited for the manufacture of said artistic pieces. When we continue with the technique of cardboard we are given the task of recycling cardboard and paper in the manufacture of alebrijes and masks, putting our small grain of sand in the preservation of our environment.

Within this learning process we have discovered that the alebrije is not only a decorative piece but potentially an artistic object that reflects the culture, traditions and worldview of the peoples of Mexico and the world, for this reason we have decided to give much importance to the Decoration of our pieces. Each piece tells a story and has its own identity.

The second for ecological awareness, since although the creation of alebrijes in the Oaxaca style is worldwide recognized, its proliferation in the last 15 years rarely contemplates reforestation programs to maintain a balance in the areas where copal wood is exploited for the manufacture of said artistic pieces. When we continue with the technique of cardboard we are given the task of recycling cardboard and paper in the manufacture of alebrijes and masks, putting our small grain of sand in the preservation of our environment.

Within this learning process we have discovered that the alebrije is not only a decorative piece but potentially an artistic object that reflects the culture, traditions and worldview of the peoples of Mexico and the world, for this reason we have decided to give much importance to the Decoration of our pieces. Each piece tells a story and has its own identity.

Pedro Linares, the creator of the Alebrijes


At the age of 30, Pedro Linares López, who was a cartonero by trade and originally from Mexico City, became ill, lost consciousness and fell into a deep sleep, which would reveal strange creatures that would change his destiny as a craftsman of La Merced

Sick and without access to doctors who could treat his illness, his sisters tried to make him react with home remedies without any result ...

In bed and unconscious, Pedro dreamed of a strange and interesting, very peaceful place, something like a forest where there were trees, rocks and animals; I could see the clouds and the sky of that magical setting. He felt that everything was calm, did not experience any pain and was happy to be walking in that place; however, suddenly, rocks, clouds and animals became strange creatures; these were animals that I could not distinguish because they were of a very rare nature. Don Pedro saw a donkey with wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with a dog's head. All those animals shouted in unison a single word: Alebrijes! They shouted louder and louder: Alebrijes, alebrijes, alebrijes!

Pedro went on his way in that fantastic dream and while he was walking along a stone path he saw a man walking quietly and asked for help to get out of that place. The man replied that he should not be there yet and that he had to keep walking because a few meters away there was an exit. Pedro ran and ran until he was facing a narrow window through which he could barely slip away, at which point he woke up.

As when he woke up he suddenly got up in the middle of his own wake, when he saw him react to what appeared to be his death, someone gave an astonished expression that was lost between prayers and exclamations. Pedro was fully recovered and from then on he began to remember his dream. He wanted his family and all the people to meet these fantastic animals. Then, taking advantage of his skill of cardboard, Pedro Linares took a piece of paper, molded those figures, painted them just as they were in their dreams and thus gave them authority to the alebrijes ...

The Oaxacan Alebrije


Popular alebrijes carved in copal wood are popular in the Oaxaca region. Which are originally known as "tonas" or "nahuales". These pieces are usually decorated with Zapotec motifs.

The alebrije of Oaxaca is a combination of the wood carving tradition of the region and the technique created by Pedro Linares. This handicraft was introduced in the Oaxaca area in the 1980s thanks to the realization of a demonstration workshop carried out in the United States by Judith Bronowski and was attended by Manuel Jiménez and the textile artisan María Sabina, both originally From Oaxaca. Linares's designs were adapted to the technique of carving copal wood, as this technique was dominated by artisans in the region. The adaptation of the alebrije was perfected by Manuel Jiménez, a native of San Antonio Arrazola.

After the adaptation of Jiménez, the alebrije was adopted as crafts in both San Antonio Arrazola and San Martín Tilcajete and La Unión Tejalapan. The production of alebrijes favored the region with economic development but also generated problems such as deforestation of copal trees. The problem of deforestation has been attempted to compensate through reforestation plans that have not been entirely successful.

Among the notable artists of the Oaxaca region are Manuel Jiménez, Jacobo Ángeles, Martín Sandiego, Julia Fuentes and Miguel Sandiego.