ARTFORUM, January, 2020
In “Estampas del Popol Vuh,” Carlos Mérida (1891–1985) presents ten earthy, psychedelic lithographs inspired by the Popol Vuh, an ancient K’iche’ Maya creation story, from present-day Guatemala, about a set of twins. Matte colors—forest green, banana yellow, tan, cobalt blue—swirl beneath thick black lines, accentuating forms that slip in and out of coherent representation: almost-fetal twins, snakes, rivers, legs, a lightning bolt, faces in profile, pipes, and birds. Mérida’s rich compositions might have been pulled out of a primordial, abstract soup. Although the artist produced them in 1943, the prints have an appropriately timeless quality. Excerpts of the creation story (in English translation) are paired with the works, serving as reminders of Mérida’s source material and the viewer’s distance from it.