I’m not quite sure what time

If nobody guarantees tomorrow, today becomes immense.

-Carlos Monsiváis-


I really don’t know how to plot the limits between pop art and the naif in the work of Barry Wolfryd. His art grew first in his native Los Angeles, a city that slowly has become almost a part of Mexico since it holds more Mexicans than any other city after our own monstrous capital. This alone was enough to make Wolfryd’s art a hybrid. But he came to live in Mexico, just when our own culture appeared to be invaded and transfigured by the media culture of North America. So it seems that his life and art are a play of reflections marked by the popular culture on both sides of the border. This is evident in those niches, so typical in Mexico, where instead of the saint or virgin worshiped by the people, he has painted a sacred can of beans, i.e., not frijoles. It’s true that Mexico has transformed the North American diet with its gastronomy but the United States has returned it canned or as fast food and we happily eat it. The work of this artist shows these ups and downs, these trade-offs and transformations of reality, through images and humor: if there ever was an ironic painter on the national or binational scene, that painter is indeed Barry. There is not enough space here to explain each work, but, for example, the man running with his briefcase in hand on a cylinder printed with iconic images of the drug trade seems to show this new culture of investment gambles, time is money, violence as a system and short-but-full-of-easy-money lives: that which coincidentally established itself and came to us canned along with the NAFTA. Or maybe we haven’t realised the coincidence of the growth of the NAFTA with that of organised crime, as the loquacious Trump is fond of pointing out with a certain shrewd truth, although he is mainly silent about the fact that Mexico became infested with the weapons and violence that came to us from the other side of the border. But Wolfryd’s work does not judge or preach. What he does is to record the visual hybrids as discourses that boil down the images and reconfigure them into an art that sums up the times and the culture that really is today’s cultural blender, this simultaneous tunnel where everything passes at once and we discover that the future was retro and life means having neighbours armed to the teeth who masquerade as good and noble citizens. I really don’t know when Barry Wolfryd became Mexican, but his painting, his ceramics and his objects project with much more clarity our understanding—and by “our” I refer to that which is happening on both sides of the border.

Fernando Gálvez de Aguinaga

  • 6 marzo, 2018