Artemio Alisio (1942 - 2006)

El mensajero (Popol Vuh) (1994)
The Messenger (Popol Vuh)

Acrylic on canvas
height: 130cm
width: 130cm

Donated by Artemio Alisio 1995


El mensajero (The Messenger) is one of two works by Artemio Alisio held by ESCALA. Both belong to the series Popol Vuh. The Popol Vuh is a 16th century book written by the Quiché; Maya of southern Mexico. Often referred to as the Mayan Bible, its title translates as 'Book of Counsel'. Based in part on pre-Columbian hieroglyphic books (codices) this manuscript describes the history of the Quiché Maya from the time of creation until after the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, recounting the adventures of the mischievous hero twins Xbalanque and Hunahpu, the two figures who feature in El mensajero.

Alisio has worked with themes from the Popol Vuh since the early 1990s; he has created more than four hundred acrylic paintings, three hundred drawings in pen and ink and several codices in ink and acrylic on canvas: all explorations of the ideas contained within this dense historical document. Alisio is particularly interested in the mytho-historical ancestry of Latin America's Amerindian peoples and this series forms part of an exploration of pre-Columbian themes and forms that has been part of his practice since the 1970s.

While Alisio has been described as 'a visual archaeologist', collective exhibitions have often reinforced Alisio's association with Surrealism particularly as represented by his involvement with the Argentine group Movimiento Espejo (Mirror Movement).

Joanne Harwood, 2008

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