The pursuit for the ever evolving, wonderful palette of hybridism and meaning that is Tijuana can be clearly documented in Alejandro Zacarías's monster scenarios and concepts surrounding home. Alejandro's eyes are abandoned, open doors into a discarded history reinterpreted by way of materials-turned-organisms, properties becoming methods, the geometric and the splattered. Lurking in the thick of his creations exists an encouraging nontraditional approach towards investigation and storytelling, peering into the broken and castaway cityscape, culled from the curbs of nocturnal disdain that its denizens inhabit. These chronicles are allusions to the fading colors of war-torn monuments, to the movement of buildings amid empty playgrounds and curfews, a remembrance of flight indifferent to dimensional planes.
Tracking the urban rhythm of permanence through rejection accelerates Zacarías's necessity for placing memory and denial into active, charged, frantic installations and artwork on a quest for truth and understanding. These lost and found objects reunite at the forefront of civility and chaos, an affirmation of the violence of temporality and the persistence of the human spirit through rugged ethereal construction. New life and spirit are injected into jettisoned objects that rise up from their tombs to summon the beauty that once was. The discarded are repurposed as art. Messages and biology lie in manufactured truth and isolation, like Tijuana itself.
Zacarías's current artistic style evolved from prior creative experimentation inspired by his horizons and news-gathering in the ruins, passageways and backstreets of Tijuana. "My first contact with art was through drawing, I used to entertain myself by drawing everything. I'd find concepts everywhere, mainly things that interested me on the street, such as the imagery generated on the walls of old houses. It was through an exhibition that my train of thought changed, and from that point on, I began painting and then studied silk-screening and fine arts and never stopped doing it since," he affirms. Zacarías's work started to develop a more composite nature, where mixed media and found objects started to inform and take over his outpour and ensemble representations. "Mixed media and assembly in my work came naturally, yet slowly. Objects that called to my attention almost always surrounded me; I'd always find form within them. I began to look for a way to fuse painting with objects and little by little, these objects began offsetting painting in my body of work until they became the basis of it," he confides.
Zacarías chooses to follow the beat of his own instincts in the creation of an art piece, with no set plan and more of a daily quest in his sights. "My process is a bit complicated, because there is no process. Many a times, it depends on a location, a discourse, or a found object or a space that makes me see things in a different light. When assembly is involved, it's a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, it's a bit mental and a bit playful," he states. As an artist creating directly from a hard-working rhythm and a love for unpredictability, Zacarías has innately developed structures from the garages and workshops of his mind. "Based off these materials and objects, I try to build a structure where different elements can function in harmony within an art piece. In installations and site-specific work, the space determines how I will work and the type of materials I'll use. My interventions in the public sphere seek to evidence the anonymity of residual spaces, which certainly represent my interest in temporality and states of obscurity," Zacarías declares.
With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Zacarías's cautious ups and downs have strengthened his convictions as an artist, and positioned him as one of Baja's most contemporaneous reflections of its variety, skill and resourcefulness. "There have been difficult stages in my career, where I started to question my work and wondered if I could really contribute something to art or if this was simply a way to feed my ego, and as a result, I stopped creating artwork for a while. But my most prosperous time is now, these moments, where I produce little by little, yet constantly, and I am happy with what I do," he states.
Forever respectful and indebted to his environment and city, to its streets and its liberty, Zacarías pays homage to the hodgepodge mecca by borrowing from its stories in order to create, by deconstructing Tijuana. "Tijuana is the principal influence in my work, the diversity of its people, the urban contrast in its topography, its inconsistencies, myths, history, and long list of contradictions. My future art projects are to produce, produce, and produce more artwork. I really feel like I'm truly beginning to create work that matters," he affirms.
All photographs courtesy of Alejandro Zacarías.