Latin American Masters gallery presents Self-Defense, paintings and sculptures by Demian Flores (b. Mexico 1971). Self-Defense is dominated by men in hand-to-hand combat. Many of the fighters are clothed in a combination of modern coat and tie and indigenous ritual adornment. Flores uses the spectacle of controlled violence, exemplified by our contemporary fascination with sports, as a means of examining the convergence of ancestral and contemporary identity. One painting entitled, “45.36,” depicts a Karate-fighter attempting to fend off an approaching airplane. “45.36” is a potent image of resistance and can be read as both a call to action and a warning of the dangers of acculturation.
Among a hand full of sculptures in Self-Defense is a plaster of two Coca-Cola bottles with cloth “fuses” attached to the lips of each bottle. Entitled “Molotov Cocktail,” the work makes explicit the tensions between global capitalism and local economies. Another sculpture entitled, “A Difficult Lesson,” is of Pinocchio. The fabled puppet-boy is collapsed in a chair. Pinocchio has told so many lies that he has lost his balance and can no longer stand upright.
Demian Flores is a keen observer of the society and times in which he lives. His work possesses a formal rigor that may have more to do with popular culture then with his inherited artistic traditions. Yet, his explorations of who we are in a rapidly changing world are universally relevant and grounded in his identity as a Mexican, with roots both ancestral and contemporary.