Eduardo Abaroa

Mexico, 1968


Eduardo Abaroa was born in 1968 in Mexico City and has been exhibiting his work internationally since the mid-1990s. He often produces seemingly absurd installations and models that combine a strikingly colorful and toy-like choice of materials with severe, often depressing or outright violent subject matter. Some of Abaroa’s earliest works, such as “Freak Collection” (1995), a series of surreal toys, exemplify his method. “Freak Collection” consists of a group of fantastic characters, like the “Average Psychopath” or the “Damned Hummingbird” but it also has some seemingly more normal protagonists in stock, like “Dick West,” a cowboy, or the “Little Clown.” Each character is sculpted in green cast resin and individually packaged in a plastic and cardboard display box, not unlike Barbie dolls or Action figures, and comes complete with accessories (the psychopath has a shovel and a chainsaw). Like their real toy counterparts, each character’s physique is exaggerated to the point of caricature, but unlike a Barbie or a Ninja Turtle, these exaggerations don’t follow an ideal of beauty, virility, or virtue. Instead, the characters are marked by obscenely enlarged sexual organs. The hummingbird features a penis almost the size of the rest of his surreal body, the clown is naked and has sagging breasts, and the cowboy’s male organ is attached to his lasso. His series “Anatomical Impertinence” (1995?) also features a group of narrative characters, rendered as children’s toys, but this time the figures displays the nativity scene, a well-established iconographic reference. Abaroa skews traditional iconography by inverting the narrative’s and protagonist’s roles; while the three magi carry their horses and the animals adore the child, Mary and Joseph stand back on all fours. Another series of model figures, “Aromas del Oficio” ("Scents of the Trade", 1997), continues Abaroa’s interest in the deeper sides of the human psyche. “Scents of the Trade” consists of eight small-scale model arrangements, each presenting a protagonist undergoing a form of torture. Each of the characters is symbolized by a small plastic skeleton, and their titles, functions, or roles are explained in texts that accompany the installations. Some figures are not immediately identifiable, while others are clearly recognizable as a legislator, a prostitute, and a philosopher. As the texts explain, all of them have committed a crime against an unnamed administrative institution, presumably some sort of totalitarian and oppressive regime. The prostitute is tied to the mouth of a small toy cannon because she laughed about a powerful client’s penis, and the philosopher is impaled and broken on the wheel because he gained insight and understanding into concepts like truth and morality. The Mexican critic Ruben Gallo has described the work as follows: “The world inhabited by these skeletons is the exact reverse of the utopia imagined by More and other idealists; this is a real dystopia, a prototypically totalitarian world whose core principles are closed-mindedness, concealment and hatred of ideas” (Art Press, No. 243, Feb. 1999). Abaroa’s work “Planta Ocular” ("Ocular Plant", 1999) does not involve characters from popular imagination, but it does continue his taste for surreal and boldly strange situations. This work is made up of a plastic plant (daisy), which contains an eyeball in the center of its blossom. A rose is growing upside down out of the bottom of the eyeball, and a threatening bee or wasp, suspended in mid air, is approaching the plant. The insect is cast from a pale yellow, intensely coiled material that is reminiscent of a human brain. The horrific constellation opens up a range of references and suggestions, exploiting the visual semblance between the white petals and dark core of the daisies and the eyeball and capitalizing on the prevalence of insect protagonists in horror films. At the basis of Abaroa’s oddly playful and deeply di

Artworks by Eduardo Abaroa