With a watchful eye, Nicaraguan-born artist Chris Mendoza draws on folkloric influences and contemporary pop culture, bridging indigenous traditions with his experiences living in NYC. His latest work is a series of 20 riveting ink drawings carved on Masonite and handmade paper. Called "Daily Habits," it's currently on display at Manhattan's Joshua Liner Gallery through 15 November 2008. (See more details below.)
Mendoza attributes his inspiration for "Daily Habits" to the musical backdrop of the sounds of hip hop culture prevalent when he was growing up the Bronx during the 1980s. His thoughtful approach to the subject presents ancient symbols through the lens of his own experience, making for obsessively-detailed imagery. The nuances—from hieroglyphic eyes to scripted bold and obtuse shapes—catch the eye among the mesmerizing bobble of monochromatic line work and etchings.
Mendozaâs precise penmanship (his father taught him drafting skills) is at the core of the work. Symmetry gives way to controlled chaos and caricatures. Each piece resonates with a secret language, begging to be decoded. Some use hollow black backgrounds to illuminate each line and shape of his subject.
"Velocity" appears to be a spaceship looming in orbit. Or is it a cityscape? "Time Changes" alludes to the ancient Mayan calendars, whereas the black ink against white paper of "Flota" reminds of a battleship sailing on a sea. Or is it a towering statue? Or could it be an industrial yard? The work is complex and illusory, requiring more than a quick glance.
Mendoza has shown his work at the Museo de Arte San Juan, White Box Gallery, the Transport Gallery and Dyezu-Exp Gallery. He is also a member of the dynamic Barnstormers artist collective that includes Swoon, David Ellis and José Parlá who come together to create large-scale murals, films and performances, in addition to their solitary accomplishments.