Noé Martínez: Las raíces conversan por debajo de la tierra

Noé Martínez: Las raíces conversan por debajo de la tierra

PATRON Gallery

Noé Martínez, Tiempo y espacio juntos, 2024. Sgraffito high-temperature ceramic, obsidian, and glass beads, 8 x 9 1/2 x 9 inches. Courtesy of the artist and PATRON. Photo: Evan Jenkins. 

June 11, 2024
Noé Martínez
Las raíces conversan por debajo de la tierra
June 7–August 17, 2024
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PATRON is proud to present Las raíces conversan por debajo de la tierra, our second solo exhibition with Mexico City based artist, Noé Martínez. Rooted in his exploration of his ancestral Huastecan texts, visual culture, and collective oral narratives, Martínez offers a critique of visual histories, the construction narration of the present, and the persistent collective trauma of indigenous communities stemming from Spanish, colonial-era conquest. For the Huastecan people, roots of trees, the spirits of flora and fauna hold a sacred power. Venerated and evoked through images, rituals, and narratives, artistic traditions and histories can tap into these healing properties, fueling the transformative power of art. Through this lens, Martínez examines post-colonial repercussions over the last 500 years, and initiates a process of communal healing. 

The exhibition features a series of new paintings on canvas which narrate five visual chronicles of genocide committed against the indigenous people of Mexico’s Huasteca region during the 16th century. The paintings depict various native plants–utilized for their curative properties in healing rituals. Appearing here only as images, Martinez draws on their power to heal a sick body, translating this type of healing from the biological to the landscape, across generations and chronologies. The stories tell of his ancestral homeland at the heart of a somber cultural landscape–a tragedy borne witness to by a set of painted ceramics. Adorned with traditional symbolic materials; crystals, obsidian, silver, and fabrics, each vessel draws inspiration from archaeological artifacts discovered in and around the Huastecan region of present-day Mexico, and stands in as the corporeal presence for the souls of his once enslaved ancestors.

Portraits of Martínez’s grandmother and paternal aunt emerge in two small paintings on copper. Their painted faces, embellished with Huastecan tattoos, extend this ancestral lineage of bodily inscriptions. For the Huastecan, the skin became a medium to hold memory. These portraits are Martínez’s most intimate language, images used as a touchstone to the spiritual plane. Three small-format paintings of stone sculptures explore Huastecan artistry and a ritual of qualitative transference in which the artist would anthropomorphize the stone by replicating their own body, and reciprocally take the qualities of the mineral into their body. Pinned and threaded through these intimate portraits are symbolic objects used in healing practices; crystals, cochineal dyed threads, necklaces whose properties are symbols of renewal.

The exhibition culminates in Martinez’s video piece documenting Nana Ade (Adela Cucue), a curandera trained in indigenous healing rituals. Rosi Huaroco and Giovanni Fabian, two witnesses of a 2012 attack on the Cherán community by militarized illegal loggers, recount their first encounters with the armed men. In a recurrent cycle of colonial displacement, the community of Cherán and their ancestral forests went unprotected by federal agencies. Instead, community members turned toward each other for protection against the criminal syndicate and to preserve the essence of their cultural heritage. Here, Nana Ade invokes sacred herbs and spirits to cleanse Rossi and Giovanni of pent up stores of trauma they’ve carried ever since their first encounter. By tapping into a collective imagination in which pre-colonial imagery traces from the past to the present, Las raíces conversan por debajo de la tierra exists as a site where the natural world, in communion with the ancestral spiritual plane, can be activated to heal.

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June 11, 2024

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