Enrique Chagoya. Representation and Translations
Frequently used in Enrique Chagoya’s bold paintings and drawings, red and black are symbolic colors grounded in pre-Columbian mythology and contemporary political philosophy. The colors represent knowledge of ancient stories; are the primary palette of Russian Constructivism, the theories and aesthetic of which inspired Chagoya’s early practice; and are adopted by many political groups—“anarchists in Europe, strikers in Mexico, and Sandinistas in Nicaragua.”1 So too, they are examples from the trove of cultural and political symbolism the artist mines in works like Their Freedom of Expression . . . The Recovery of Their Economy (1984). Chagoya produced this satirical oversized cartoon in response to the Reagan administration’s political intervention in Central America during the 1980s. Two figures of Mickey Mouse—seemingly benign but depicted with the faces of Reagan and Henry Kissinger—paint political messages with a bucket of red blood. Often creating jarring combinations of the imagery of American pop culture, which the artist was fond of as a child in Mexico City, Chagoya confronts American foreign policy with keen humor.
Enrique Chagoya, “Interview by Moira Roth,” in Enrique Chagoya: When Paradise Arrived (New York: Alternative Museum, 1989), 6. ↩︎