A New Mythology

Cuban duo Guerra de la Paz turns trash into a funky otherworld.

The sculpture appears to be on the verge of movement and also references a Middle Age tapestry bearing the image of the Virgin falling in love with a unicorn symbolizing Christ, which was a popular myth during medieval times.

One of their most striking pieces is a life-size sculpture of a shaman called Witch Doctor, which bears a resemblance to a Native American kachina doll.

The figure's torso was confected using an old gorilla suit. In a past incarnation, its neck piece was a hand-crocheted dress. "We used a doggy sweater and a Bavarian hat for its head," laughs de la Paz, who says the sorcerer's face was crafted from a girl's ruffled bloomers.

Guerra de la Paz's La Guardia
Guerra de la Paz's La Guardia

Details

"Otherworld": Through March 10. Carol Jazzar Gallery, 158 NW 91st St., El Portal; 305-490-6906, cjazzart.com. Saturday and Sunday 1 to 6 p.m. and by appointment.

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The artists agree that many of the archetypes they are tinkering with can be found today in superhero comics and TV soap operas.

"The symbolism is present everywhere in contemporary culture, especially in marketing," says de la Paz, expressing regret that in a disposable society, identity can be shopped for with a credit card and cultural meaning becomes increasingly unmoored from the past.

"Alain and I are not mall people," he says. "We avoid them like the plague. I am not interested in fitting in. Today everything is mass-produced and everyone seems to wear the same uniform. Even people who seek a primitive side by getting a body-piercing realize that everybody now seems to be getting a tattoo."

De la Paz pauses to relate a story about a youngster he encountered in his gritty neighborhood. "There were these clothes that were strung up on a barbed-wire fence almost reminiscent of a prison camp. Alain asked the kid if he thought the clothes and wire were art. The boy responded no, laughing. Alain went to get his camera to capture the scene. When he showed the kid the picture and asked him if he thought it was art now, the boy was surprised by the image and said yes."

Not unlike forgotten fables, this artist's story has a moral. It's that art is everywhere, he says, and all the more surprising when found where least expected.

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