Ricardo Mazal, one of Mexico’s most prominent contemporary artists, explores themes of life, death, transformation and regeneration through a multidisciplinary approach to painting that combines photography and digital technology.
In 2004, the artist embarked on a trilogy examining the sacred burial rituals of three cultures, continents, and time periods. He began at the Mayan tomb of The Red Queen in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, then traveled to the Peace Forest cemetery in Odenwald, Germany. His newest series—inspired by the sky burials of Mount Kailash—marks the final installment of his triumvirate. In each of his investigations, photographs have been the impetus. For Mazal, photography is a bridge that links reality to abstraction. He begins by manipulating his photographs on the computer to compose a digital sketch. He then moves onto the canvas, delicately layering oil paint using foam-rubber blades. To reveal luminous passages of color, Mazal sweeps a dry blade with varying degrees of pressure across the canvas. The vestiges of paint are almost embryonic in structure with faint texture and hue.
At regular intervals, Mazal photographs his painting in progress. Returning to his computer, he creates hybrid sketches that fuse the photographs of the painting with the virtual drawing allowing him to revisit his composition. Often, Mazal’s influences will also spring from images of previous paintings, which he incorporates into new digital sketches. It is a regenerative and cyclical process closely paralleling the themes he explores.
Ricardo Mazal’s work is included in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez, Zacatecas, Mexico; Maeght Foundation, Paris; and Deutsche Bank, New York and Germany. In 2006, a retrospective of his work was held at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City’s Centro Cultural Estación Indianilla and his large-scale painting Black Mountain MK 2 was included in Frontiers Reimagined, a Collateral Event of the Venice Biennale curated and organized by Sundaram Tagore, in 2015.
Mazal divides his time between Mexico City and Santa Fe, New Mexico.