Pedro Reyes is a Mexican artist of international renown whose conceptual, often sculptural works make use of unusual materials to imagine a better, more playful world. Over the course of his two-decade-plus career, he has married a keen social conscience with an innovative approach to solving social problems: his hands have transformed guns into musical instruments, crickets into hamburgers, and concrete into gorgeous abstraction. We were thrilled when he agreed to create a new piece for the cover of our recently released edition of Amores perros, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s visceral portrait of Mexico City at the turn of the twenty-first century. A lifelong resident of the Mexican capital, Reyes brought a deep understanding of the city and its culture to the project.
Working directly with Iñárritu, Reyes sought to convey the roughness and intensity of the film, which unfolds in three separate stories that intersect around a fatal car crash. “I did want to distance myself from the realistic approach,” he writes.
“I took as an inspiration a Mexican stone carving that can be seen at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City that depicts the jaws of a jaguar that have a hollow space where human hearts utilized during the sacrifices were placed as food for the gods. According to the culture, the rising of the sun depended on these sacrifices. This jaguar is called cuauhxicalli, and the inspiration is a mighty and powerful expression of vitality and fury, similar to a raging dog.” Dogs—referenced in the perros of the title—are important symbolic figures, as well as characters in their own right, in the film.
Reyes chose charcoal as a medium in order to capture the “stoniness” of the carving, inspired by the work of midcentury Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and his illustrations of archaeological artifacts. And the composition had one more, perhaps unexpected inspiration: “The decision to make this drawing vertical comes from an iconic film poster,” he explains: “Jaws.”
Check out a sampling of his multifaceted artwork in the gallery below. And for more information on Reyes, you can follow _pedro_reyes_ on Instagram.