"this sense of dystopia is creating opportunities never possible before": Igor F Solis, artist
18 jul 2016 by Brooke Eastman
Igor F Solis is a visual artist based in Mérida, Yucatán. His work has developed under an intense emotional charge related to his life experiences in México and New York, both of which have had a profound impact on his artistic practice.
B.E. What are you currently working on?
I.S. I am capturing data for a new group of pieces inspired by the Yucatán Peninsula's life and environment; it is also inspired by a previous experience based upon a series of collaborations and individual pieces named Tropicalismos that have shaped some of my vision and direction for the work. Part of this project may diverge into another work that I´ve been long interested in realizing, a Tropical Sci-fi.
B.E. Could you elaborate on that, a Tropical Sci-fi?
I.S. Tropical Sci-fi is a project of abstract paintings and drawings inspired by the images of dystopia established in the first two Sci-fi novels written in Latin America, Eugenia by Urzaiz (1919) and Sizigias y Cuadraturas Lunares by Manuel Antonio de Rivas (1776), both of which were written in Mérida, along with the tropical existence of evolution and the quickly emerging city of Mérida within the national scheme.
Photograph of artist Igor Solis, image courtesy of the artist.
B.E. You moved from New York City to Mexico several years ago. What has this move been like for your practice?
I.S. It has been a very shocking experience, more so over the years than at the very beginning, due to the fact that I was carried on by a New York inertia—one that proved to be fruitful, but in the long run made me realize many aspects of myself and my current vision of contemporary society, art and nature.
B.E. You were recently selected to create artwork for the 2016 Miradas Biennal. Could you tell me about your project?
I.S. The project, in which I was chosen to participate, is part of Ciudad de capas multiples, a research grant focused on the terminal and endemic aspect of Yucatan’s architecture. 'Viejos centros de poder 1', is a new media digital piece based upon one particular zone of Mérida. The collage-like image is made out of institutions and buildings from the time of the last Mexican dictator, Porfirio Díaz, to present day in an anthropomorphic way, rendered with digital work. The idea is to continue this venue by aligning it with the main Tropicalismo subject that I´ve been immersed in since I arrived. It is part of an ongoing process that started from the early shows I had after arriving from New York.
Igor F Solis, Viejos centros de poder 1, digital print, 100 x 65 cm., 2016, image courtesty of the artist.
B.E. While you started out in abstraction, you have been doing more naturalistic, scientific illustrations, as of late. Could you speak a bit about this shift in artistic focus?
I.S. Yes, well my interest in the subject traces back when I was living in New York; I missed my place of origin from time to time. Long hours in the Museum of Natural History helped me—finding ways of linking information and resolving my inner need for the tropical landscape and species became a must.
Years later, I was already settled in Mérida when the opportunity arrived; I found the field specialists, and all I needed was to explore and respond. Remember that the Yucatan peninsula is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots for endemic species. There is so much to do to raise awareness using that visual language available in scientific art illustration. By the time we finish this interview, numerous invaluable species will have continued disappearing down the path to extinction.
B.E. You cite Walton Ford as a source of inspiration. How has his work influenced your own?
I.S. Ford was an amazing finding because his work is easy to read, very universal and poetic. He elevates his forms of art by oversizing and implicating literature and history with animals and humans. A very interesting idea if you think twice about human and animal nature’s history.
Igor F Solis, Nicte choóm - Plumeria obtusa, colour pencil and watercolour on paper, 56 x 76 cm., 2014, image courtesy of the artist.
B.E. How do you think these scientific illustrations fit into the contemporary art scene?
I.S. Sadly, or perhaps not, depictions of animal and plants are historically known as illustrations, first documented by artists and now even by “intelligent cameras” in inaccessible places where only specific species roam. The species as we now know them may only be tales from books and pictures if promptly documented, the more artists’ focused on this matter the sooner any society may take action. In many ways, it is our responsibility to know, to care and to preserve them, if we ever were or are interested in the amazing legacy from this planet.
In many ways, the contemporary art scene has been suffering the same problems of modern society: economical and mass media depredation, exacerbated corruption and money laundering, lack of identity and direction; however, on the other hand this sense of dystopia is creating opportunities never possible before that are helping to fuel consensus and dialogue amongst people located far distances away and with very different backgrounds—perhaps one might be an ornithologist, a college university professor, a visual artist or a little kid—and together divulgating science and generating conversations about it.
B.E. What projects are you working on next?
I.S. There are some historical themes that provoke my interest. Specifically, Porfirio Díaz, Mexico’s last dictator, and his presence and influence within Mérida during the 19th century. Mérida was his favorite city outside of Mexico City, Mexico’s capital. I would like to do some portraits of Díaz within the specific environment of Mérida. This is a perfect theme to expand upon in my practice because of the intense charge of power and how it directly connects to Mérida’s present atmosphere.
Then of course, the Tropical Sci-fi project that I earlier mentioned, which would be a sort of return to abstraction for me.