Interview with Jesus Mora (J.M) by Haafiz Karim (H.K)
I met Jesus Mora in his small studio tucked away behind a music instrument store. The small space was brimming with artwork that immediately caught my eye, canvas upon canvas of earthly tones and brilliant textural detail.
H.K: It is known that you are particularly influenced by Mayan art and history. What of this epoch or culture fascinates you and inspires your creative endeavors?
J.M: Well it’s not just Mayan art. I’m from Mexico but I don’t exactly know what my indigenous roots are so I want to learn more about that culture. I’m not just fascinated by Mayan culture but rather all indigenous cultures especially those in Mexico. All my work has that influence from ancient cultures and nature, insects, or plants or other organic forms.
H.K: Your work is often said to transcend into the subconscious. Could you elaborate on what message you most want to convey to your audience about the subconscious world or the connection between that and the real world.
J.M: I guess I want to depict the cycles that we are basically a part of. When you see the microscopic world and the universe it’s the same reality, we are a part of this. With that in mind, talking about politics and social issues or such, whatever action someone does in another part of the world affects me.
H.K: There is always this ethereal and organic quality to your artwork, obviously being inspired by nature. Do you ever see a shift in inspiration, or do you think you’ll always continue to create within this particular genre?
J.M: I think I see a shift, why? Because I like to experiment, I like change I don’t like to be the same. Someday maybe I will move on into a different style, I don’t know it just now. Obviously I think it’ll have the essence of what I’m doing right now. Actually I hope I change because I don’t want to get bored.
H.K: Do your sculptures aim to carry the same message as your paintings, in terms of the link and intertwining between vastly different worlds?
J.M: I think so, the sculptures have that too, and I think it’s the same essence. It’s complicated in some ways because I feel more comfortable with the paintings. With the sculptures I’m still experimenting and trying to tranfer some elements of the painting and the iconographies I am familiar with. But yes, in some ways, it has the same message.
H.K: Your artwork is exhibited widely. What has the international reception been towards it? What about the reception in your home country, Mexico?
J.M: I don’t know. It’s hard. People like it. It’s good. It’s hard to really say. If you talk about results in terms of my selling it’s slightly more unsuccessful. I feel it’s good overall though.
H.K: You were awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, what did this mean to you?
J.M: Well that meant a lot. It was the most successful part of my career. It helped others to believe in me, I always believe in myself. Recognition like that is huge it brought me more self-esteem even though I already had it. It also brings encouragement and something else to present. I can say I’m doing my best.
H.K: Would you be able to tell us what you’re currently working on, and your latest projects?
J.M: Right now I am working on the Mayan Calendar and a the small version of the Mayan sacred book “The Pop Wuj” better known as Popol vuh. I had to produce 60 illustrations. I am working with Bartolo Alvarez, a Mayan Kiche elder who lives in Toronto and a Canadian Writer Paul Seesequasis. I hope this book will be out in the first half of 2013. This project was supported by the Guggenheim foundation and the Ontario Arts Council.
H.K: What about your future endeavors?
J.M: I don’t know because it depends on how life goes and what opportunities open. I believe that what I am doing right now is going to lead me to something else but I do not know what it will be and when it will happen. Meanwhile I am working in some different projects that I have already started like finishing some sculptures and keep painting. At the same time I try to promote my work in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A. The most important thing for me in life is to paint and be creative.