From de Tocqueville to Baudrillard, American history is filled with foreigners who have come to these shores to reveal truths that make us squirm. When painter/satirist Enrique Chagoya burst onto the Bay Area scene in the mid-1980s, his charcoal-and-pastel drawings did exactly that. Mash-ups of American pop culture and Mesoamerican myth, his art exposed the concealed ideological baggage that culture carries when it crosses national borders. Practicing what he calls “reverse anthropology,” Chagoya redraws Latin American history to show the conquistadores (represented by American cartoon and comic book heroes) being vanquished by the natives. In this violent, sardonic oeuvre in which the artist upends the modernist practice of appropriating primitive art, Aztec and Mayan warriors and ancient goddesses clash with the likes of Superman and the Lone Ranger, often at length across multi-panel codex books that fold out, accordion-style, like the original pre-Columbian history texts that the Spanish destroyed.
Such works have earned Chagoya international acclaim with exhibitions in the US and abroad. His art can be found in the collections of major public institutions, including: SJMA, BAMPFA, SFMOMA, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Des Moines Art Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts and many others.
On Saturday, September 23, 5:30-midnight, the San José Museum of Art, a long-time supporter, will honor the artist and patrons Evelyn and Rick Neely at its 2023 annual auction gala. It will will include food, drinks, music from DJ Chuy Gomez and a tribute from experimental musician Guillermo Galindo. All artworks — click here for the catalog — will be available for bidding in the live auction, which will open and close on Saturday, September 23, during the event. A silent auction opens for online bidding on Thursday, September 21, at 9 a.m. PDT and closes on Sunday, September 24, at 5 p.m. Learn more.