Born in the City of Córdoba, Argentina, Martin Ferreyra is a self-taught artist whose work spans media from ceramics to video and performance. Through his constant search for new media and techniques that “break the boundaries of space,” he creates work with a timeless quality that originates in a universal emotional resonance, constructing an imagined world where he investigates identity, ritual and myth, both personal and collective.

 

Originally trained as a psychologist, Ferreyra brings his cerebral insight to bear on his artistic work: “For me, it is important to know how images and symbols represent our culture and the way we live in this world,” he says.

“The study of psychology was a way to understand human behavior and how our language and mythology build our reality. In that way I'm interested in incorporating and being influenced with my psychology studies, for me it is a way to see the world from a different perspective.”


Currently based in Etla, Oaxaca, Ferreyra has participated in festivals, exhibitions and residences in Amsterdam, Spain, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and the USA. 

 

Dioses y Guerreros showcases the breadth of his media and methods, including printmaking, painting, sculpture, weavings, and clothing, which come together to represent the dioses y guerreros (gods and warriors) from the prehispanic cultures of Mexico to today. 

 

By referencing the iconography of Aztec civilization, Ferreyra’s work offers a view of the past through the window of a contemporary personal mythology. “In the show you can see the presence of a jaguar, crocodile, bat, butterfly, and human figures referencing the sun and the moon,” Ferreyra says. 

“These elements give me a glimpse of nature and the culture of our ancestors, bringing them back to life in a different time and form.”

For this show, he worked with the influences of two areas of Mexico where he has lived during the past decade, referencing the clothing and tools of Aztec warriors and the textile work of Oaxacan communities. His intent was “to investigate the imagery of these cultures on the importance of warriors and gods as anthropomorphic figures and their link with the local fauna.”

 

He was drawn to this exploration by the desire to understand how the natural world informed daily life in these ancient cultures, “giving special value to the flora and fauna of the place, respecting them to the point of being worshiped and giving them strength to face their own battles,” he says.

 

Ferreyra explores these concepts through a range of media, including a series of rugs he created in collaboration with the Sanchez Garcia  family of Santa Ana, Tlacolula, Oaxaca. “The idea was to synthesize the form of the elements I wanted to represent, adapting the form to the techniques of the standing loom with which they were made,” Ferreyra says. He also created a series of paintings that riff on the rugs, imitating their patterns and presentation. His ceramic sculptures embody his conception of dioses y guerreros using local clay from Oaxaca, burnt in wood fire and finished with raku technique.

 

In addition to collaborating on the rug series, Ferreyra worked with Ppaays, a textile  brand  based in Mexico City, to transform some of the rug designs into ponchos and sweatshirts. “For these pieces I incorporated the idea of female and  masculine energy and the symbolism behind these concepts,” he says. “The sun, the farming, the snakes are elements that represent the masculine energy. The moon, the mountain, and the night are associated with female energy. My idea was to build two powerful images loaded with symbolism, to understand these two complementary opposites, a way of building to deconstruct and understand these classic sexual schemes.”

 

For Ferreyra, excavating these mythologies is a way to keep memory alive, but also to resignify their timeless themes in the modern world. By giving his characters center stage, emphasizing their costumes, war tools, and expressions rather than portraying them in a specific action or situation, he “immortalizes these warriors and gods.”

 

Dioses y Guerreros will open at Hecho a Mano on Friday, March 1 and will be on view until April 1.

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