Free First Thursday: Alejandro Macias and Identity in the Borderlands
Beginning, middle and end of the painting process. Alejandro Macias, American, 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas. Images courtesy of the artist.
Artist Alejandro Macias is deeply concerned with issues surrounding belonging and place in the Mexican-American experience. Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, he speaks to physical and cultural divides. Identifying at once with U.S. popular culture and with the deeply rooted Latinx culture of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Macias’ paintings are structured by dualisms: naturalistic and stylized, grounded in white and rich color, and at once deeply personal and broadly iconic.
These paintings are created layer by layer, and at times one section at a time. Macias shared behind-the-scenes photos from his studio of the creation of three of the paintings currently on view in the feature exhibition 4×4: Willie J Bonner, Nazafarin Lotfi, Alejandro Macias, and Anh-Thuy Nguyen. Click through the slideshows below to watch as the paintings develop over time.
Free First Thursday is presented by an anonymous donor.
Nopal en la Frente (Con Dos Equis Amber), 2021
Oil and acrylic on linen
Macias shared this painting on Instagram (@alex.macias.art) with the following caption:
“I often don’t feel like I have ‘favorite works’ but I do feel like the recent Nopal paintings were personal milestones for me. Here’s the first of a pair I made for 4×4 at @tucsonmuseumofart.
“These works are meant be multilayered but mostly used to highlight American assimilation, document people within social settings, and highlight Mexican / American iconography, such as the Dos Equis beer and the composite of Captain America and the Hulk.”
Oil and acrylic on canvas
“This 5.5 ft x 4.5 ft canvas was handed down to me by my late mentor Carlos G. Gomez’s wife, Mina Gomez. He must’ve stretched in 2016 sometime right before he passed later that year. I carried it with me from Texas to Arizona knowing I would do something with it when the time came. I contemplated and contemplated and eventually the idea and the time arrived. It remained empty until now, five years later.”
Nopal en la Frente (Con Bud Light), 2021
Oil and acrylic on linen
“The second of a pair of nopal paintings I made for 4×4 at @tucsonmuseumofart.
“I wanted to make a painting that linked itself to Texas and Tex-Mex culture social circles. Many border Texans are die hard fans for the Cowboys, a team that is obviously loved by many but I feel just as equally hated by non-Texas residents. The blue star and tallboy bud light are powerful icons that seemed to be present every Sunday, as if they were part of a religious ceremony. I always saw sports and beer as something that brought people together, despite ones political and religious beliefs, and I still do, but the Cowboys owner and NFL in general seem to increase the gap between people within heightened socio-political climates. The truth is that sports have always been political and always will be, as they tend to reveal ones stance.”
About the Artist
Alejandro Macias (Mexican-American, b. 1987) Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, along the U.S.–Mexico border, Alejandro Macias’s body of work addresses themes of heritage, immigration and ethnicity, which are set in contrast to his critical engagement with the assimilation and acculturation process, often referred to as “Americanization.” Macias currently serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona School of Art. His work can be found in the collections of the Brownsville Museum of Art, Brownsville, Texas; The City of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas; and many private collections.