Raised as roosters: Relief prints and drawings by Abel Alejandre and Guerra

September 19
 - December 5, 2020
An exhibition featuring new and recent works on paper by Abel Alejandre and Guerra, reflecting on Xicano identity, masculinity, and traditional Mexican visual motifs.
Works by
Abel Alejandre and Guerra

Coinciding with the 30-year anniversary of the groundbreaking historic survey, Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-1985 (CARA), Angels Gate Cultural Center presents Raised as roosters: Relief prints and drawings by Abel Alejandre and Guerra. Alejandre and Guerra, widely respected for their rendering and printmaking skills, share a selection of new and recent works on paper which provide an opportunity to reflect upon themes of Xicano identity, masculinity, and traditional Mexican visual motifs.

Born in the region called Tierra Caliente in Michoacán, Abel Alejandre emigrated to the United States as a child. A self-trained printmaker, he pays homage to the traditions of master engravers through his dedication to the craft. Frequently, Alejandre draws upon his life experiences in order to examine the concept of masculinity, manhood, and codes of conduct through the lives of men in his life. In some works, a rooster (gallo) becomes a metaphor and symbol for manhood, valor, machismo, and patriarchy. As Alejandre interprets it, the aim of this beautiful, regal (albeit common) creature is to convince an opponent of its wisdom and prescience. Yet it is a fierce animal, possessing the primal instinct to fight until its enemy is dispatched. Similarly, men can embody this quality, this sense of cunning, this unique nature, according to the artist. This makes the rooster an ideal subject of inquiry.

Growing up in the rural Santa Maria Valley, near the town of Guadalupe, California, Guerra became accustomed to the expressions of pride and family tradition that were exhibited through farming expertise. Wearied, however, by the patriarchal nature of both Mexican and American cultures in the Central Coast, Guerra sought out alternative means to express his creativity by studying printmaking, bookbinding, and papermaking. Drawn to notions of ancestral knowledge, experiences, and sacrifice, Guerra has turned his attention to explorations of sanctuary—those safe places that serve our wellbeing. Reflecting upon his multifaceted identity, in his relief prints, he references decorative motifs and symbology from architecture and ornament that connect the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula to the Spanish conquest of the New World, and ultimately with contemporary Mexican American culture.

Read more about Raised as roosters

Interview with the Artists

This exhibition is generously supported, in part, by the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Virtual Exhibition