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Mexico meets India in new mural Downtown

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A monumental mandala explodes high and wide, spanning two-stories of 516 ARTS in a plumed swirl of color.

Guest artist Curiot Tlalpazotl spent a week and a half creating “Unity” for the opening of the gallery’s “The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination and Possibility.” The exhibit is currently open.

Organizers invited the muralist to create the work across its 25-foot high entrance wall. The results show mythological creatures centered by a multi-faced deity. Multicolored embryos orbit it in kaleidoscopic circles. It’s Mexico-meets-India in Albuquerque.

Guest artist Curiot Tlalpazotl works on his mural “Unity” at 516 ARTS in downtown Albuquerque on Thursday. The mural is part of the gallery’s exhibition “The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination and Possibility.” (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“The composition is the chakras,” Tlalpazotl said as he squatted on a blue lift, brushes dangling from his hands. The artist was born in Mexico but grew up in Costa Mesa, Calif. It’s “the energy levels we all contain.”

“It’s like unity in all cultures,” he continued. “It’s my version of the Mexican deities. It has many faces; it comes from my adventures in India.”

The artist spent two months painting murals in India before coming to New Mexico.

“Up north, a lot of the sculptures have multiple arms and faces,” he said. “The gold details come from the Buddhist temples. It represents where we all come from; the center piece is pure energy.”

Based in Mexico for the past 10 years, Tlalpazotl (his real name is Favio Martinez) has painted murals in Germany, France, Spain, Tunisia, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. He traces his bright colors and organic imagery to the folklore and handcrafts of Mexican culture.

Tlalpazotl used a variety of brushes and inspiration from his time in India to create the mural “Unity” as part of an exhibition at Albuquerque’s 516 ARTS. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The mural gathers his trademark eye-popping flora, fauna and figures with delicate metallic gold embellishment on the borders. He worked on the piece free-hand, without sketches, templates or photo projections.

“I’ve just been kind of improvising,” he said. “I used to make sketches, but it kind of got boring.”

“Up north, a lot of the sculptures have multiple arms and faces,” he said. “The gold details come from the Buddhist temples. It represents where we all come from; the center piece is pure energy.”

516 ARTS director Suzanne Sbarge allowed the artist to create what he wanted without seeing a sketch. The mural marks the first time the gallery has allowed an artist such freedom.

“We didn’t know what he was going to do,” she said. “He made it up on the wall. We had confidence in his work. He’s done projects all over the globe that are mind-bogglingly beautiful. We just watched it unfold.”

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