Published at The Bottom Line – S.M.A.K. Belgium
Sandra Vásquez de la Horra appropriates popular iconographies and expressions through processes of compilation, association, and hybridization, creating drawings where figures, scenes, and allegories from dissimilar times are twisted in a contemporary mythology and personal alphabet. With graphite, the artist draws over different recycled paper types and dips them in wax, as inscriptions traversed by multiple layers in the manner of a palimpsest.
Throughout her work, the artist has built a repertoire of motifs, a profane and eclectic pantheon where archaic archetypes (death, birth, time), Classical myths (Orpheus, Dionysus), rural figures (the Spirit of Flowers, the sleeping Andes mountains), urban characters (El Oficinista) and contingent political agents (Malas Juntas) emerge as a dark imagery, renewing their urge of death and life.
La Santa Muerte, a dressed-up skull and the personification of death, is one of the recurring figures in her drawings. A syncretic image of the indigenous cult of the dead and the Catholic horseman of the Apocalypse, this icon operates as the key to enter and exit both worlds and as an emblem of the hybridization dynamics that began with the colonizing crash in the Americas.
The artist has explored the typographical possibilities by adding texts in several drawings.
Through this medium, popular and colloquial expressions, like Volver al Origen or Curiosity killed the cat find their way. Ironic, unexpected, and thoughtful, while also paying tribute to visual poetry and antipoetry, they transfer the uncanny buzz of the collective “voice.”
Vásquez de la Horra’s drawings render transfigurations and store material strata, from found papers, including accounting books of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), through the graphite to the final layer of warm beeswax. As an extended operation of engraving, the wax bath seals the work, setting deeply the lines, and the papers turn out ochre, translucent and precarious. Gradually, the drawings become papyrus and skin—and the dark inscriptions thrill both as ancient irreverent signs and as cool contemporary tattoos.
Mounted unframed directly on the wall, the quasi-archeological and organic pieces form a non-lineal drawing installation, an oval, a spiral or a constellation. Likewise the popular and intriguing ex-votos’ walls, Vásquez de la Horra’s arrangements are driven by the baroque principles; though, their desire of salvation is quite profane and contingent: the rearrangement and restoration of memory.