Marcos Raya

Marcos Raya
Raya’s struggle with substance abuse led to depictions of the drug trade’s effect on the Latino community of Chicago. Among these are portraits of friends who died of their addictions. Other works explore sexual relationships, the mystique of Frida Kahlo, Mexican folklore, the aesthetics of technology, and street life on the South Side.
Self Portrait with Smoking Mirror
Mixed Media on Canvas and Wood, 20” x 15”
2006
BIO
Marcos Raya (b. 1948, Guanajuato, Mexico) came to Chicago in 1964. He is a pioneer of mural painting in Chicago. Existing murals include "Against the 3rd World War" at 18th Street and Western Avenue; “Community Horganization" at Casa Aztlan, 1831 S. Racine; and "Cataclism" at 2201 S. Halsted. Raya’s work was featured in the “Chicago Show” that inaugurated the new Museum of Contemporary Art. His work is in the permanent collections of the National Mexican Museum in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Alfred Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Museum of Notre Dame in Indiana. He has shown extensively in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. His work will be featured in an exhibit at the School of the Art Institute in 2008.

THE ART
Raya has never shied away from confrontation or controversy. Ambitious in scope and technique, he weaves together past and present realities of Mexican-American life. He produces work at all ends of the scale, from room-sized installation to intimate objects—icons, collages, paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs—using a mix of media with inventiveness and wit.

Raya’s struggle with substance abuse led to depictions of the drug trade’s effect on the Latino community of Chicago. Among these are portraits of friends who died of their addictions. Other works explore sexual relationships, the mystique of Frida Kahlo, Mexican folklore, the aesthetics of technology, and street life on the South Side.

“Self Portrait with Smoking Mirror” is constructed as an icon. The mirror’s reflection is a robotic, mask-like skull, behind which is a fiery night sky. The handle of the mirror is a part vertebra, part jagged syringe, which says that for Raya death is always present, a demon haunting in the shape of addiction.