Mark Piñon

The space of myth my work represents relies on a pop sensibility that taps Chicano and mainstream culture, conveying meaning through humor. I derive inspiration from my Texas Mexican culture and Mexican heritage. In my work I like to explore dynamics combining representational and symbolic images with abstraction. My paintings incorporate contemporary cultural icons and pre-Hispanic mythological symbols, merging past with present as a connection to the future.

Señor Chile epitomizes a tio type—everyone knows one, the one with a Ph.D. in b.s. who was always making you laugh with his jokes and making smile with a dollar. This character was inspired by the work of legendary folklorist and scholar Don Americo Paredes. I first created this character on illustration board using airbrush, expressly for the cover of Paredes’ Uncle Remus con Chile (Arte Públio Press, 1993), a collection of Mexican and Texas-Mexican jokes from the Lower Grande Valley and other areas. “Señor Chile” is juguetón, burlista, grosero, witty and clever--like the anonymous narrators of chistes collected by Paredes. He’s an urbane vato with a 50’s sensibility and the epitome of pachuco cool. His character took on a larger than life form while I was painting him on the large canvas. When I’d stray away from work, el vato would throw me these little chiflidos, and I could hear him nudging me, “Ey, ese, when you gonna finish me, man? Ey, ese, ponle. Oralé.”



Pipe and Revolution (not always what it seems), points to the power of image (representation of reality) vs. the power of reality. The allusion is to French artist René Magritte’s famous piece, “This is not a pipe,” which inspired my work. The split image shows a pipe on the right—not a real pipe, just a painting of a pipe. But when juxtaposed, with an image, on the left, of a commando in a black ski mask, representing the pipe smoking Comandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista struggle in Chiapas, Mexico -- you have a revolution. Comandante Marcos is real, his pipe is real, the Revolution is real.