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Artist to Watch: Rilke Guillen

February 2, 2018

Photo Courtesy of Rick Guillén Facebook

I would like to start by saying that I am in no way related to Rilke Guillén, even though we share the same last name and we’re both Mexican. However, that would be really cool if it was true. I came across Guillén’s work when a Facebook friend shared one of his paintings and I was intrigued immediately. He is primarily a painter and makes murals, but also works with sculpture and illustrations.

Based in Mexico City, he shares on his Facebook page that he paints in order to express the vision that he has of the world to try to produce an intense emotion within the viewer, with what does exist and what doesn’t. The way he writes his statement is very poetic and would lose its intensity through translation, so the first sentence is an attempt to capture why he makes art the way he does.

From an outsider’s perspective, Guillen’s art is like the visual representation of listening to the Mexican rock band Caifanes. This band uses influences from post-punk bands like The Cure, but with a twist to comment on Mexican culture, and references ancient civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans. In a similar way, Guillén paints in a very modern way, but his portraits have headdresses and makeup that are reminiscent of those ancient cultures.

The representations are very successful because they are not done in a stereotypical way, rather in a way that brings them back to life, almost literally. For this particular artist I find it very difficult to pick a favorite mural or painting. However, I will say that “+K24 Nahual Fennec” is definitely among my favorites. His intense use of traditional hues of greens, oranges, and reds is exquisite with the abstraction of the headdress of the model. The background of this painting is more expressive compared to his other work that tends to feature psychedelic patterns as backgrounds. Experiencing only one of his paintings is not enough to get a good idea of his body of work, so be sure to give him a follow on Instagram @rilke.guillen.

Lily Guillen
Photography Manager

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