In 1, ART on June 8, 2012 at 3:06 am

From there to here Mixed Media on wood ………… 2012

Is it about where you’re at or where you’re from? Given that the location is not composed of one but of many and that everyone here originally came from a there else, Alejandro Mendoza’s exploration of location is an association of spaces with memory.

Locations present a mental geography that maps and orders the location, human relations and the mind. The physical and conceptual layout of the location encompass the structure and order of Mendoza’s work and construct the lines and dots positioned upon as pathways, detours, exits, entrances, rebounds, acceptations, appropriations and identifications that characterize the active social process of movement From there to here. Location is then the outcome of dis/re/relocation’s that provoke manner of reflections on the consequences for a sense of belonging or unbelonging arising from the crossing of “routes and roots”. This association of routes and roots is “topoanalysis”—-spaces associated with memories, thus can be ‘read’ as a psychological diagram of a subconscious.

Alejandro Mendoza provides a visual vocabulary that signals the recognition that the transactions of peoples brought together From there to here result in profound disruptions and adjustments that require an active process of forging new identities. Location, location, location then prompts to ask: What does the artworks, and expressive forms generally, tell us about this process that exceeds what analytical and historical accounts by themselves can reveal? Are there more general lessons to be learn here about the problematic of subjectivity, particularly regarding the role of affect? And are these the forms through which identities and ways of life can be re-figured?

For Mendoza, it is through the activities of recalculating/calibrating that locations are transformed into place of meaning. The works presented here provide cues for finding adequate formulas.


The thematic of space is intimately linked to that of time and experience in Town over. It is through space that the encountering of the other is accom-plished. The space “location” functions as a kind of palimpsest, “a kind of parchment on which successive generations have inscribed and re-inscribed the process of History.”

We see the town in an aerial map composed as a puzzle of pieces of wood. The usual perspective, which obliges us to look above through a monoculture, cultures from somewhere else, finds itself inversed. The entire town becomes a projection of piecing of cultures. The town is recomposed in a complete and harmonious manner by the plethora of identities expanding infinitely through the process of mixing.

Space is also a theme with multiple facets in the work of Alejandro Mendoza. It is both domestic and geographic. The space through metonymy represents all the problematic of history, of movement— dis/re/location as in Town over, the location becomes the reflection of the condition of those that inhabit it.

As the location series, Mendoza is in search for a window, a frame allowing seeing his own life and our society in which We are helping People. The work of Mendoza is thus linked to all that concern the eye, the sight, and the arts in search for an aesthetic fitting to his world, to the reality of the contemporary world.

Town over Mixed Media on wood ………… 2012

We are helping people Mixed Media on wood ………… 2012

Mendoza’s linguistic sensibility makes ambiguity rather objectivity the ultimate target of its contemplation.(Pau-Llosa). The aircraft carrier deck –like and the fighter jets on it in We are helping people provide cues for Mendoza’s keen awareness of another possible world. Instruments of war, Mendoza flip them over for an expression of a deep-seated human quality.

We help people calls for forgetting war. It is a bridge we need to cross for our wish to materialize. The aircraft carrier no longer exists as the ultimate recourse through death. Thus, all that remains, here and there, is a bloody twisting of the human spirit which he denounces and which we must eradicate. Only confusion makes us mistake a wink for a wink, leading us to take the map for the territory.

This approach for a new intelligibility which graft Ricardou’s literary fiction analysis is relevant to the overall philosophy of art and could, if proved, or rather revealed itself be operative to access an “intelligibilité nouvelle.” Mendoza views this intelligibility in asymmetrical dimensions. But!

This asymmetry is neither obvious nor easily detectable, especially as the old perceptual habits make us see all in symmetries, equalities and balances as if they constituted the essence of things, beings, the entire universe and the condition of their intelligibility. So,

Be my Blue Mixed Media on wood …………


Be my Blue! De-shaping has been constant in Mendoza’s recent conversations. This perhaps explains the fluidity of his lines and their asymmetrical jet as to reinforce the permanent movement of his thinking— a never conviction of having arrived at…but always in becoming.

Dissymmetry and inequality then are actually everywhere: in reality and in thought, things, beings and in art. The difficulties of the theories of imitation and the inability of imitative artists to realize the symmetries and equalities in perfect reproductions of natural patterns, bold and fanciful forms of abstract art and cubism, deformations and distortions of African art, contemporary architecture, are all examples of the reality and permanence of asymmetry in the works of civilization. An artist who creates mindfully cannot simply be as s/he appears. Thus, although order, harmony and balance requirements are of the mind constituted habits , it is necessary to be convinced that the traditional concept of beauty has become too narrow to reflect and cover the semantics field of esthetic.

The others, Mixed Media on wood ………… 2012

The issues invoked above pose the fundamental question of identity in its personal and collective dimensions. Mendoza expresses the paradoxical nature of the response he brings to the conceptualization of the “other” which is at the center of cultural studies. The metaphorical shape of The others does not allow solving the dilemma of internal division that affect the migrant subject. To the contrary, it suggests an infinite refraction of that division, that crack which leaves the subject divided between his/her submission to the gaze of the other and his/her desire to be whole, finally master at home, capable of generating his/her own definition of his/her identity. The others can then be read at the levels of vision/division/visibility/invisibility.

Division is the negative side of the question. The traces of this thematic are to be explored because through his work, Mendoza often invokes these breakings that cross the othering process; division between the colonizer and the colo-nized, between black and white, between past and present rendering the subject paralyzed by the gaze of the other, flabbergasted by a gaze that forces him/her to see him/herself as others see him/her. The expropriation is not uniquely geo-graphic; it’s above all identity.

The Border, Mixed Media on wood ………… 2012

The border, of difference and similarity, between self and others is a strainer through which historical facts are negotiated in remembrance, obsolescence, and dynamics of signification of representations. The border functions as a mode of inscription through mnemonic codes that delineate the temporal and realities of a community in term of visual imagery


Emphasizing the border as place/location offers an importunate signal for exploration of the concept of “place memory”. But the signs of division are several and always inextricably linked to their contrary, in search for that freedom in which all forms of binary and duality fly across the border.



In this paradoxical relationship between division, tearing and search for an impossible wholeness, the works of Alejandro Mendoza occupies a key position. They are a form of doubling by which they remain themselves while bearing the mask of another possible identity. The vision doubles in hope of increasing the visibility of the objects of this world. This doubling is enrichment, supplement of sense. The artistic language of Mendoza is often “ambiguous” —the mark of a vision that is all but linear. His forms are rather related to rhizome often invoked to describe the logic of the transnational world. The equilibrium is always instable and needs the energy of experiences of crossing borders, helping people and finding new locations.


Babacar MBow

Art Critic/Curator

April 5, 2012, Miami, FL




Eventually my ineptitude confuses the cross with a man or vice versa who knows…

In 1 on January 16, 2010 at 4:56 am

Corpus Digestive.

Bearing the Cross of Our Humanity
Babacar MBow
Alejandro Mendoza’s counter-current contributions of visual meanings constitute a defining moment in Caribbean Diaspora Contemporary Art. The service he has rendered us through his work spans the past decades of Caribbean states’ ups and downs—a contemporary visual history he decodes for a necessary new “enlightenment” with which we say who we are and where we are.
Challenging the gaze of the other and where it locates the Caribbean in the scale of “values” it has self-forged, the work of Mendoza articulates what we are enduring and sometimes why we are subjected to it.
The work gazes at our socioeconomic and political conditions in an analysis of both the calamities that weight down on us—oppression, poverty, de-spiritualization, but also our knowledge of setting priorities. Mendoza has chosen something else for us; to break that stochastic process in which the conditional expectation of the next value, given the current and preceding values, is the current value of disasters that has sometime been programmed for the Caribbean—that debilitating fatality in which the Caribbean is expected to be maintained. The work explodes in thousand images, thousand colors, and thousand breaths under the sky of Miami to say that we are still here. That we are still human since our ancestor LUCIE saw the day and with the first human wail on earth. The oeuvre of Alejandro Mendoza is then testimony to the millions of years, we have not stop creating life, reducing the dangers and organizing the existence of the human, inventing forms of defense to protect it and imagine chef-d’oeuvres for the pride of the entire humanity. The work articulates our existence and overcoming of centuries of human barbarism and oppression–an articulation fitting to great civilizations that have marked our peoples. It presents Caribbean art with smiles and gestures of happy peoples, with the extraordinary vigor of his themes, the wisdom and mystery emanating from them, and the styles of our various aesthetic cosmogonies. The work is offering: to ourselves and to others of what the Caribbean has the best: its culture. But this is not a fossilized, folkloric culture. Of course, it expresses our songs, parades and flaunting, it displays our exuberance and our reserve but above all, it expresses our thought, our speech, our questioning and self-criticism—our humanity. Have we always been “out of history” as the ‘other’ claims? Has modernity fallen on our head crushing us down? Where are we going? What have we done of our freedoms? If yes, how were we able to found the strength to bend our bows to free ourselves? Where have we found the springs to straighten ourselves? In the arts, religions, history and the coded messages our ancestors bequeathed to us. These are the foundational depths Alejandro Mendoza reaches for responses to a world that seems to have gone mad.

Tu casa es tu casa.

Turn on my fire.

When you lose some body.

The art of Alejandro Mendoza and the Cuban religious tradition.

Alejandro Mendoza lives, and produces his art in Miami; not in his hometown: Havana. However, this space dislocation generates no differences in the Cuban distinctive features that permeate his work. American art collectors consider as “authentic” only those artistic works made inside the island. But Miami has become a true “reservoir” of Cuban culture inside America; a huge aircraft carrier ashore Biscayne Bay. Starting in 1980 with the massive arrival of “Marielitos”, this city in Florida – 45 minutes flight away from Havana- is no longer the winter beach resort for American retired citizens, and has eventually transformed into the second capital for Cubans.

Miami is also the final destination for over 10,000 Cubans that legally emigrate from the island to the United States every year. Newcomers change their vital expectations in a postmodern capitalist economy and bring new elements to the Cuban-hood that was transported by previous immigrant groups. Mixing the Calle 8 domino and arrozcongri (mixed black beans, and rice) at La Carreta restaurant with Oprah show, spiced with Mexican TV soap operas, broadcast by Televisa, and the every day hard work at Hialeah factories, Miami is becoming the most incredible cultural lab of the Cuban civilization at the dawn of the XXI century.

His cultural education has significantly marked Alejandro’s work. A new cultural movement began in Cuba in 1980 (later called Cuban Renaissance.) It was led by a small group of artists and supported by the Cuban critic Gerardo Mosquera, who exhibited the famous Volumen I show that eventually became a landmark in Cuban contemporary art history. By the end of the decade, the concepts driven by the New Cuban Art were widely spread among a great number of artists graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (Higher Art Institute), a state university that became the center of most innovative artistic proposals. Members of ephemeral art groups like Puré, ArteCalle, Grupo Provisional or Nudo, these young funny artists reintroduced the performance, the expressionism, the conceptualism, as responsive weapons to face the decorative and pleasing tone present in the Cuban art during the 70’s, and proposed a deconstructive art for those iconic rituals manufactured by the Cuban establishment for the mass. At the Instituto Superior Pedagógico (Higher Pedagogical Institute,) where he became a Visual Art Teacher (painting and sculpture) Mendoza (among other later artists as Pedro Vizcaíno, Armando Mariño, Pedro Alvarez, Alexis Esquivel) made close contact with the “radical” students from the Instituto Superior de Arte, and learned analytical teaching methods for creation that facilitated the recycling of images, taken from high or low sources, as the leitmotif of his work.

Alejandro has made use of the Cross as a visual pretext for many years. But this peculiar quotation does not specially imply an intimate relation with catholic religion; it did not happen either with those artists commissioned by the church for the Counter Reform in the XVIII century. As a symbol, the Cross is definitely associated to a long period of universal history, but it is also connected to the Cuban history. With a sword and a Cross in both hands, exhausted after dissuasive discussions with his sailors, Christopher Columbus arrived to Cuban shores on October 12th, 1492. There were also crosses hanging on the seed-made necklaces Fidel Castro’s barbudos (rebels) used to wear when they marveled all Cuba in 1959. Pope John Paul II waved a cross in his hand when he landed in Cuba in 1998, in a trip to reaffirm the catholic nature of the Cuban people.
All these contents may be associated to Mendoza’s works, but only in a partial approach. His wood Crosses are medium size format sculptures, with finish resembling, metals and other academics techniques. They are ready to be placed on the wall of a house, or a church…who knows…and their central part is a peculiar stage where no dramatic representations of saints’ images appear, but reproductions of objects coming from real world. A fine ironic accent in the titles of his works is combined with the surrealistic tradition of the found object, as Joseph Cornell, and Rauschenberg did in the American art. Unlike Chicanos artists that manipulate the Virgin of Guadalupe, and relate it to feminist approaches or current situation at Mexican communities in America, Mendoza’s crosses are not meant to cry, pray or bow in front of them. They are containers where the artist has placed questions that kindly challenge the spectator thoughts. It is a very particular way of reusing the most popular symbol of Christian religious art within a contemporary cultural proposal.

Mendoza’s work falls within one of the largest tradition of Cuban art: the religious theme. It dates back to the XVI century, with the work of Juan Camargo. While It became more visible during the XVIII century with the mulatto painter Nicolas de la Escalera, it seemed to vanish by the end of the XIX century, with the symbolist poetic trends and Art Noveau. However, recent research works (De la Fuente 2001) has traced the living nature of this topic in Cuban contemporary art. Since the 30’s with Fidelio Ponce, a mayor figure within the anti academic avant-guard movement, up to contemporary artists like Juan Francisco Elso, Bedia, Mendive, Carlos Estevez and Esterio Segura, the Cuban art records the presence of several religious believes: catholic, Yoruba, Jew, new ages; all of them integrated now in a public way to the Cuban spiritual life and with no atheistic or theological restrictions in the communist horizon. Together with these artists, Mendoza contributes to the new reality with a more universal vision of religions, less linked to orthodoxies and closer to common men.

Hemingway said: “A writer should perpetuate the place he best knows.” Mendoza’s crosses reenact the religious tradition of Cuban art, perpetuating this theme in his distinctive manner, inside the parameters of the contemporary art, while expressing -with irony and irreverence- the need for faith of the current man.

Abelardo Mena, La Havana, Dec 2005
Curator at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Cuba.
Art Critic and Cuban Art Consultant.

Nobody fucks with me.

I am myself.

In 1 on January 16, 2010 at 3:15 am

The monkey is a symbol that needs to be understood by considering the various associations that we make when thinking about them. Monkeys may represent lust, self-satisfaction and trickery. A monkey may also represent positive attributes, such as agility, inspiration, a sense of freedom and a capacity to imitate. In Japan, toys that look like monkeys are given to children because monkeys are supposed to be able to drive out evil spirits. In India, the monkey is a symbol of soul. Thus, monkeys as symbols appear to have a double or twin meaning. Whether positive or negative, the monkey is revealing something to you about what is going on in your inner world. People usually think that monkeys are far less evolved and the expression “stop monkeying around” is understood by all. The dream with a monkey may be an encouragement from you unconscious to continue to develop your personality by staying close to your own nature.

The face.

The body.

Making myself.

The Artist.

The Monkey.

The Art.