The engraver Antonio Waco Ponce Muñoz, artist and engraver, wants to continue expanding the teaching of traditional Mexican engraving in one of the states mtos impoverished from Mexico, Chiapas.
Mexico as a country is considered one of the most prolific countries in the engraving discipline, and is recognized on the national art scene. The graphic visual baggage that has existed both in its pre-Hispanic past and in modernity, with a wide variety of movements that have used engraving as a tool for expression and identity, thus generating a compendium of Mexican themes.
Antonio works in the southeast of Mexico, which has an important Mayan population (the most widely spoken indigenous languages in Chiapas are Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol and Zoque), abundant nature (its rivers, waterfalls, lagoons and its Lacandon jungle are its tourist emblems. ). The imaginary from Chiapas and the wild fuel their art.
As a graphic artist, Antonio wants to raise the art of Chiapas promoting traditional engraving. I was able to have an interview with him, which was edited for clarity.
Alejandro Barreto (AB) How did you decide to dedicate yourself to engraving?
AP: At the age of 21 and there I met the engraving technique, and decided to dedicate myself to printed art. I wanted to know the history of Mexican graphics, for example, with the Popular Graphics Workshop —TGP—, wave League of Revolutionary Writers and ArtistsThey were movements that attracted me a lot, because they caused an awakening to Mexican society in the 20th century.
At the same time, the graphic from Chiapas is important to me since in the past, we have had good renowned artists such as Franco Lázaro Gómez, Ramiro Jiménez Pozo and Máximo Prado, who went to work in Mexico City at the invitation of Jorge Olvera Hernández and they return more empowered to the state, all that was what managed to broaden the artistic spectrum in Chiapas, and personally, motivated me to achieve that goal of being an engraver. Also because engraving gave me many expressive possibilities since I found the tool to create images.
AB: Does the history, tradition and the Chiapas context influence your work?
AP: Yes, it directly influences having raised me in a small town called Altar cloth, where grandma's house had her huge chicken coop and had different animals, I also remember drying the coffee beans from Yajalón, (Municipality of the Tulijá Tseltal Chol region). Those memories that I can still breathe are part of my visual imagination and my artistic production. From my experiences having had direct contact between the capital and the community – which was between the high jungle region and the border with Tabasco.
AB: Tell me a little more about where you grew up and how your work influences.
AP: Near the rivers and their pools, animals lived in their natural habitat and there were even people who kept them as pets, deer, badgers, toucans, turtles. The stories told by my grandmother “Doña Chole”, the legends of the same town, the church and its sacred art from the 17th century, where as a child I saw these striking images of saints and biblical passages.
Within my work, for example, there is a rooster inside of a television symbolizing the contrast that in the city the first thing that is done in the day is to turn on the television, and in the communities it is the rooster that crows to start the day. I use hybrid animals with great inventions of humanity like a whale-ship as a contrasting duality, although I also return to more personal themes, allegories or social situations, sometimes experimenting with fusing techniques, playing at solving images.
AB: Antonio, what do you think of the current art scene in the state of Chiapas?
AP: There is a very good artistic scene and more and more proposals come out in all disciplines: visual, music, scenic, etc.. and unot of the main reasons I feel that it was the social detachment that has existed in the history of Chiapas, since it has been marginalized and forgotten in economic and educational aspects by the government and culture.
However, thanks to the Chiapas Institute of Sciences and Arts, renowned plastic artists such as Jorge Olvera Hernández, Armando Duvalier, Guillermo Lowe and the engraver Alberto Beltrán came to the state. They promoted artistic education, even sending teachers from Chiapas to train in Mexico City, and thus I feel that art here was becoming more professional and ceased to be just a trade, to give way to a more complex and identifying art.
AB: How important do you consider the generation of independent spaces to be like the Taller San Caralampio, the one you created?
AP: Many, thanks to the workshop, several have become more interested in learning, collecting, having direct contact with the techniques, giving that real value to the graphic stamp that is created in our state. I am against the argument with which some galleries say that the engraving is devalued for its quality of multiple reproduction, they imply that an engraving is not a unique or original piece. For my part, the social contribution that the graphic workshop “San Caralampio” gives is to try to promote quality and present the public with the opportunity to have direct contact with the workshop, the tools, so that it is known that the pieces in a series are original. multiple and are all part of an edition.
AB: What is the role that art plays in the current context that we are experiencing in Mexico?
AP: Mexican graphics was a movement that helped provide popular visual and imaginary education directly to the people at the time of the post-Mexican revolution with a large number of TGP forms, for example. They spread among the popular classes. Even now I compare it with urban art that tries to bring art closer to the public, give them a logical, digestible and direct understanding with the graphic image without elaborate meanings.
You can see more of Ponce's art on his Instagram account.