Using traditional iconography from his own cultural heritage and mixing it with contemporary influences, Mexican illustrator, graphic designer and street artist Saner created a distinct vision of the world. He developed his own deeply personal voice by incorporating traditional symbols, colors, clothing and masks of Mexican culture into his art while combining elements from graphic design, drawing and graffiti.
Rendered in a bright and colorful palette and imbued with rich symbolism, his work features animals and human-like figures, wearing traditional Mexican garments with their faces covered by Nahuale masks. These masks, according to mythology, have the power to transform humans spiritually or physically into their animal counterparts. Drawn from archetypes of history, his mystical characters are surrounded by rich flora and fauna, reminding us of the importance that nature has in our environment. In his work, Saner addresses themes of personal, urban and environmental development, inviting the viewers to improve themselves, both as individuals and as a society. His art integrates his personal aspirations, beliefs, philosophies and evolving awareness, seeking to reach people’s hearts and stir them towards the mindset of oneness.
Saner’s latest body of work will soon be on view at Dorothy Circus Gallery in London. Titled Lovers, the exhibition brings together a brand new series of 10 paintings exploring the notion of universal love. The artist seeks to remind us that only with love and self-appreciation will we be able to overcome the violence and the eternal struggle that characterize our modern society. The artist’s debut U.K. show will be on view starting October 10.
On the occasion of the show, PRØHBTD chatted with Saner about his latest body of work, the influences of Mexican culture and traditions on his art, the colorful masks his characters wear, humanity’s relationship to nature and much more.
Combining traditional and contemporary influences, you have developed a unique personal voice. What aspects of Mexican culture and traditions have shaped your visual language the most?
Some of the things that have shaped my work have been traditions, colors, history, social problems and my personal interest in some of the things that are now being lost within our modern culture. All of these elements have been an important part of artistic production.
This colorful world you have created is inhabited by local demons and heroes and many other mysterious beings. How do you conceive these characters and how do they reflect our contemporary society?
I find that our contemporary society has been addressing the same topics for a long time. The use of local demons, heroes and other creatures is my way of representing issues that worry and disturb us and that, somehow, form us as individuals. Somehow, we are reflected in these demons, spirits and enlightened beings, and I attempt to release these characters in a world inspired by my way of perceiving the reality I observe.
The faces of your protagonists are hidden behind intricate colorful masks. What kind of narrative are you conveying through this?
In many Mexican cultures when people wear a mask in different rituals, this should not be seen as a way of hiding one’s face but rather revealing it in its maximum splendor, showing us how we really are. The intention of my paintings is to show the actions and behaviors that we undertake in the different situations we encounter throughout our lives.
Your art communicates through a range of symbols, including those that represent life, death and rebirth. Could you talk us through some of these?
The themes of death, rebirth and life are there to remind us that every day is an opportunity to appreciate and live in our environment differently. Knowing that we will move to an unknown dimension when we die, which can intrigue us a lot, we live to learn and appreciate everything and everyone around us. We are reborn with the idea of having learned from our past but with the opportunity to improve on this new journey.
Humanity’s relationship with nature is a recurring subject in your work. In a time when this relationship is becoming more uneasy, what issues concern you the most?
What worries me about our relationship with nature is that we have an expiration date as a society yet we continue accelerating this process. My intention is to remind us that we depend on nature to survive and that our passage through this life is like the reflection of a flower: We are born, we grow, we bloom, but we will inevitably die after leaving an important mark on everyone around us.
Your upcoming exhibition at Dorothy Circus Gallery will explore the universal theme of love. Could you tell us something about this latest body of work?
Lovers explores universal love, in a time where we are divided as individuals in a social moment where it is easier to feel hate and resentment than to make a gesture of love to the person next door. Lovers will show for the first time a complete exploration and overview of this theme, following a series of murals and paintings on this subject. Therefore, I believe it will be a crucial point in the stories told before this show and those that will follow.
Your work has always had political and social elements. How do you see the responsibility of public art today?
Beyond the question of whether public art has responsibility or not, I believe that, first and foremost, any kind of responsibility depends on the creator and on the role they want to assume within the surrounding environment. In my case and my experience, my way of being able to contribute to society is through my visual work, and that is where I assume a position to support, criticize, revisit, thank and applaud situations that affect us every day.
Mexico has a rich and long muralist tradition. How would you describe its current street art scene?
I think we live in a very rich time in terms of talent and creation. Of course, I do not compare it with the Mexican Muralism of the 1920s because that was a different time and context, but what now happens in the streets of Mexico and the world will surely remain within the history of our time as the way of appreciating public space has positively changed now.
Any future plans and projects that you would like to share with us?
Collective exhibitions will be shown in two museums in the United States and mural projects in Mexico and Europe.