With the traditional and iconic imagery and aesthetics of the ancient Aztecs, Jorge Qetza reimagines pop culture characters, such as Darth Vader or Wonder Woman.
In the last few centuries, it’s become common to see art as a sublime expression only a few elites can enjoy, whether it's the religious elite, the aristocratic elite, or in more modern times, the intellectual elite, but actually, art is a universal constant in humanity. It might sound strange, but today we’re closer to our ancient ancestors in terms of the way we understand and consume art. Think about it, most ancient civilizations used art not merely as objects to enlighten and move the elites, but as means of communications to portray their own cosmologies, beliefs, concerns, and even for everyday purposes that have to do with more banal matters. Today, art has regained the same function. It appeals to our most universal emotions and ideas, and we consume it every single day everywhere. Whether it's graffiti, murals, online illustrations, tattoos, stickers, or any other art form, we live and breathe art.
So, what’s all this musing about, you may ask? Well, as you can gather from the title and the images you’ve seen already, the artist we’re going to talk about today combines two seemingly unrelated motifs and art techniques in innovative mashup artworks that end up blending perfectly into a single cohesive discourse about the consumption and presence of art into our everyday lives. Jorge Garza, who calls himself Qetza, takes characters from modern pop culture and embeds them in the imagery and style of different pre-Columbian aesthetics.
Drawing inspiration from Mayan, Inca, Zapotec, Olmec, and Aztec, among other ancient traditions, Qetza reimagines iconic characters from modern pop culture as distinctive figures of these ancient civilizations. The result, as you can see, is a unique and almost irreverent mashup that at first might strike you as insensitive or even offensive, but that on a closer look, you get to see a great respect and strong artistic discourse. But what inspired this artist to go for this particular art style?
Jorge Garza is an artist born and raised in Lake Station, Indiana. His parents are both of Mexican descent. This part of his history and identity always fascinated him, so ever since he was a little boy, he would read and research the history of Mexico, finding in the ancient civilizations a very alluring iconography and imagery like no other culture had. Those systems of lines and figures used to explain their cosmologies and realities appealed to the young artist. For him, the best achievement a civilization can have is its art, and for these cultures, it’s not the exception. It became his passion, and later on, his main artistic focus.
These illustrations you’re seeing are actually just one of his many projects. For Qetza, a screen or paper isn’t the only canvas where he can portray his art. Just as for the ancient pre-Columbian artists, anything could become the background of their art, Qetza does digital illustrations, artworks on paper, and even t-shirts (which is one of his most profitable means). But besides the techniques, he has also developed different styles and themes always inspired by these ancient aesthetics, histories, and mythologies.
In a way, what Qetza’s work portrays is that blend of popular art for the masses. It’s an explanation of our reality through recognizable symbols and icons that become a means of communication apart from words and letters. Back then, these civilizations used icons and very set images that everybody understood as visual languages; today we use emojis and memes to convey feelings, needs, and concerns. Isn’t it somehow similar? These images might look like funny, well-done images, but they’re actually a very witty merging of the same purpose.
If you want to see more of his amazing art, dive into his Instagram account.
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