THE MESTIZO ART OF CARLOS ZAPATA
Available online here, and in print through Momentum Publishing 2019.
“In a polarised time, when everyone is arguing about identity, we have overlooked the inclusive, flexible tradition of mestizo Latin America, which fuses colonial, indigenous and slave cultures to transcend national and historical boundaries. The mestizo art of Colombian artist, Carlos Zapata, engages equally the riches and horrors of history to express a plural unity. Folk and tribal art meet Christian iconography and merge spiritual and political realities. Fetish and icon become interchangeable. War is paired with the intimate and supernatural. The rough burlap jacket of Zapata’s sculpture Shaman Protector drips with protective talismans that remember the brutal era of Colombian kidnappings. But death is understood environmentally, as the first ingredient of life: beside a wooden carving of a pale blue corpse, a tree sprouts green leaves, and Saint Rabbit’s human breasts and pregnant belly glisten with silver leaf. Carnivalesque, rough-hewn and deceptively simple, even toy-like, the art of Carlos Zapata is at once celebratory and unflinching.”