Tribal Pop in Baja: artist Jaime Carbó Marchesini blends ancient with modern
by Matt Phillips
Rosarito Beach, a 30-minute jaunt south by bus from Tijuana, is low-key on a recent weekday morning. Not many tourists this time of year, just a beachside resort town’s melodic awakenings: seabirds angling over the boulevard, motor bikes rattling across bumpy pavement and the regular cadre of dusty, yellow-white taxis trolling for fares.
Off Boulevard Benito Juárez, right beside the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel , is 213 Art Space, Carbó Marchesini’s gallery and studio. Climb the few painted steps to get inside – they’re adorned with words like ‘truth’ and ‘love’ and ‘spirit’ – and you’ll see that he paints on everything. He opens a tin cigarette case – “you want one?” – and leans over his desk to ponder contemporary art. The desk is organized chaos: A bowl full of different colored Sharpies, small jars of acrylics, a paintbrush or two, some sketchbooks and a few green, lucky-bamboo plants.
“I needed to develop a visual language which would be representative of this part of the world,” says Carbó Marchesini. “Mexico still, but very influenced by the border with the United States. I was always trying to find a kind of visual expression that would be what I am – Mexican, but with almost a fifty-fifty influence of American culture.”
“The Festival” by Jaime Carbó Marchesini was chosen as this year’s poster art for the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Aldo Santini, who runs Giorgio Santini Fine Art Gallery a few miles south of Rosarito, calls Carbó Marchesini the leading modern pop artist in Baja California. Santini has been showing Carbó Marchesini’s work since 2003 and describes his paintings as “modern pop combined with pre-Spanish ancient Mayan, Aztec [and] Huichol themes and colors.”
For Carbó Marchesini, who grew up in the dusty border town of Mexicali and went to grade school across La Frontera in Calexico, the idols of indigenous culture are a visual bridge, a way to connect his ethnic roots with images from the incessant digital revolution. His paintings, with their hard-edged lines and bright colors are, as he calls them, tribal pop.
Carbó Marchesini’s teenage years in the ‘80s were infused with Atari, Nintendo and punk bands. But he counts other influences too; artists like Takashi Murakami, who invented the superflat movement, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring. He sees his work as a cocktail, with semi-equal parts European Modernism, American Pop and Ancient Mexican.
“[To] try to make a modern painting which is, to me, new and innovating, without inventing some other art form – it’s like a challenge,” he says. “Brushes. Paint. And see where you can go with four walls.”
One of Carbó Marchesini’s paintings was recently selected as the poster design for the San Diego Latino Film Festival (March 13-23). Since 213 Art Space opened almost a year ago, he’s sold around 50 paintings. At 42, his regional success is a culmination of decades of study and work. A working musician in Mexico City during the ‘90s, he started to pursue the visual arts as a profession when his band broke up. Now, he makes his living as a painter.
“It was a strange time because I was so into the music that I was trying to make a living out of it,” he says. “And then, when that came apart, I held onto what I’d done since I was a kid which was drawing and painting.”
Carbó Marchesini’s work, too, is a response to technology’s increasing relevance in our lives. His paintings are Old World meets new, a crossroads on canvas where the binary assault of digital ones and zeros is beaten back with ancient idols – his is work that defends our intellectual space while acknowledging the receding boundaries of that same space in our lives.
“Art used to represent, I think, some of the archetype models in our minds that tended toward spirituality,” he explains. “It’s a register of culture – art. It should be a register of culture, that’s why it needs to be modern too.”
A few blocks north, across Boulevard Benito Juárez, the staff at Tacos El Yaqui greets Carbó Marchesini with hand-slaps and fist-bumps, a few barrio guys just saying hello to each other. The place is packed for a weekday, Carbó Marchesini says, because it oozes positivity. That, and the world-famous tacos. But positivity is the real ingredient for success.
“Your thoughts are seeds and some things will grow out of that. They turn into actions,” he says. “Every art is a communication of culture and mind, and sometimes we forget that all these have effects on our lives and others’ lives.”
Soon, Carbó Marchesini’s work and philosophy will make its way to San Diego. A selection of his paintings will be on display at La Onda Arte Latino in Liberty Station from March 10 through mid-April.
Andy Gonzalez, who runs the gallery and commissioned Carbó Marchesini to design its logo, says the artist’s work is part of the rich Baja arts scene which has trouble filtering into San Diego and elsewhere. Gonzalez, who has volunteered at the San Diego Latino Film Festival for many years and encouraged Carbó Marchesini to submit his work for the poster, is resolved to bring Baja and other Mexican artwork to San Diego.
“People love to see it, but they don’t want to get out of their comfort zone,” says Gonzalez. “We’re going to bring it to you.”
-Article for Culturebuzz Magazine, San Diego CA. March, 2014.
Postmodern Mexican painting
Unseen forces, which our subconscious mind captures and transforms, play everyday roles in our interaction with the world around us. They are transformed into thoughts, thoughts into actions, actions into habits and habits into our lives. Form, color, light, shadow and subject matter within images evoke such forces, and arouse feelings that our minds have engraved into our hearts.
Such is the importance of the image when projected through the eyes into the back of our minds, traveling through regions unknown to the conscious mind, and sparking synapses which awake, create or destroy neuronal patterns.
To beautify life through our thought processes, to balance our waking worlds, and to bring us closer to truth, be it individual or collective, has been one of the main tasks of the man-made image since time immemorial.
To bring us closer to our creator by means of imitation has been the main engine for humankind´s creative efforts. The search for beauty and personal as well as collective spirituality have played an important role in this endeavor where we seek to embrace the paternal-maternal feeling of Love, as we are inclined to do so since birth.
Recurring images return and recycle themselves in time through generations of human created imagery, such as higher force creations also return and recycle themselves within the animal and plant kingdoms where species and specimens are born, evolve and wither away in different lapses of time, but in measurable cycles. Immutable forces of nature, which remain constant in spite of their constant change and movement, are also recurring constantly and are measurable through acute observation. Even the quickly evolving human made environment where technology, ideology, fashion and politics play important roles, recycles and returns as all other forces of nature which we evidently cannot escape no matter how much world we construct.
Transformation is the main act of matter, and while we destroy certain things and create others, we are only adding to the transformation of matter, which has been happening long before we were acting as humanity and will continue long after we are no more. In our heartbeat lifespan, we really change nothing but our own consciousness and in the less than 100,000 years that we have been transforming the world around us, we have essentially not changed much of ourselves. We remain as we always were and will be; floating electrons in constant motion, creating different patterns through consciousness or unconsciousness, driven by forces which we may or may not be meant to comprehend, but can evidently apply.
We are as we always were and will be; we will shine or we will darken, we will wake or we will sleep, we will rest or move around, and what will change will only be our perception of this motion. Time will stretch back and forth providing evidence of our existence, and matter composed of energy and space will be transformed; and in these cycles along we will go with everything else that is.
We are cosmic natives of our planet, we are technological as well as spiritual, fire as well as LED, dirt and silicone, air, pixels, smoke, water, coffee, sugar, corn, chocolate, electricity and beer. We love to imitate our creator with anything we might have in our power, be it a bonfire charcoal or an apple laptop, and for thousands of years we have gazed into the same stars with the same eyes and the same awe, within the same surface of the globe; our home as long as we can remember.
Rosarito Beach, Baja California MX. 2014
Jaime Carbo Marchesini (JCM)
2014 1st Place Latino Film Festival International poster image contest, San Diego, CA.
2013 Opened 213 Art Space, open studio-gallery @ Rosarito Beach Hotel, exporting artwork to New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Toronto, among other cities.
2012 Scenic Sculptor and Painter for Mexican feature film ¨Volando Bajo” in Playas de Rosarito BC.
2012 CIHUACOATL marble sculpture @ XIII Changchun International Sculpture Symposium, China.
2012 Scenic Painter and Sculptor for American Feature film “All is Lost” directed by J.C. Chandor starring Robert Redford @ Baja Studios, Playas de Rosarito BC.
2012 Individual Exhibition @ CEART Baja California State Gallery, Mexicali, Baja California.
2012 State Painting comission for the Family Integration Development Center, Mexicali BC.
2011 Selected at the XVIII State Biennal of Baja California.
2011 Scenic Painter, Sculptor and Prop Maker for the History Channel´s TV Mini Series “Clash of the Gods” in Mexico City.
2011 Scenic Painter and Sculptor for American Feature Film “Little Boy” @ Baja Studios, Playas de Rosarito BC.
2011 Selected @ ll International Sculpture Biennale, Guadalajara State University, Mexico.
2011 Collective Exhibition @ ENVOGART gallery, Tijuana BC Mexico.
2011 Individual Exhibition @ Baja California State Gallery, Tijuana.2011 Individual Exhibition @ Baja California State Gallery, Playas de Rosarito
2010 Collective Exhibition @ ENVOGART gallery, Tijuana.
2009 Individual Exhibition Los colores de la Baja¨ , Casa de la Cultura Tijuana B.C.
2009 Creation of Metal Sculpture Monument “Voz de la Tierra” Plaza las Fuentes, Tijuana B.C.
2008 Mural Comission in the City Hall, Rosarito B.C.
2007 Mural Comission at Abrham Lincoln Grade School, Rosarito B.C.
2006 Published @ www.artetotal.com (carpeta Baja California)
2005 Collective Exhibition @ Jadite Gallery, Manhattan New York.
2005 Individual Exhibition @ Arts & Entertainment Center, San Diego, California.
2005 Published @ VOLCOM.com.
2004 Ephemeral Mural Performance @ Bodegas de Sto Tomas Winery, Ensenada BC.
2004 Individual Exhibition @ CEMAC Municipal Culture Center, Rosarito, B.C.
2004 Individual Exhibition @ Esquina de Bodegas de Sto Tomas Winery, Ensenada BC
2004 Individual Exhibition @ “RedWhiten’Boom” CEMAC Municipal Culture Center Rosarito BC.
2004 Collective Sculpture Exhibit “Grupo Mortero” @ Lugar del Nopal Gardens, Tijuana Baja California
2003 Collective Exhibition 100 años de Mexicali UABC State University and City Hall, Mexicali BC, Mex.
2003 Collective Sculpting & Sculpture Workshop opening @ Alvaro Blancarte Studio UABC State University Tecate BC.
2003 Collective Sculpture ¨Minotaur¨ with Alvaro Blancarte UABC, State University, Mexicai.
2002 First Individual Exhibition @ Café Espresso, Mexicali BC.
2002 Experimental Collective Exhibit and workshop with Patricia Soriano @ the 2002 UABC, State University Book Fair.
2001 New Colors Collective Exhibition @ ICBC State Gallery, Baja California Mexicali B.C.
2000 Selected at the State University Biennal, UABC Mexicali B.C.
1999 International Tour of the XII Biennale Visual Arts Collection of Baja California. Lyceaum Theatre Gallery, Repertory Theatre, Horton Plaza, San Diego, California
1997 Collective Exhibition @ Bellas Artes Academy, Mexicali B.C.
1995 Collective Exhibition “Día de Muertos” @ San Carlos Royal Art Academy, México D.F.
|¨Don´t bend; don´t water it down; don´t try to make it logical; don´t edit your own soul according to fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.¨ - Franz Kafka.