To see Mario Castillo’s Skull art works on Black T-shirts and other products please visit:
Calavera is Spanish for skull. Calavera art has been present in México since the dawn of time. Throughout Mesoamerica the image of the skull was used as a symbol by many cultures. Many of these icons appear cartoon-like in nature. For centuries it has been the essence of a lot of Mexican art. Jose Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913), a printmaker considered México’s greatest political cartoonist, used the skull and the skeleton as his main subjects for almost all of what he did. His artwork is known throughout the world.
As a Mexican-American artist, Mario Castillo, from very early on, did work related to death by painting skeletons and bones and at times actually using real bones for assemblage constructions. To see some of these constructions follow these links:
Many of Castillo’s paintings also make use of skulls. For the most part, skulls in Mexican art do not represent something ominous but rather they seem to represent the opposite; they appear to be joyful and are rendered in a somewhat cartoon-like way. This is unlike the American representation that is given to skulls. Here in the states the skulls are rendered in a form that is more realistic and gruesome. Mario Castillo feels that the first image here titled “Yellow Calavera” is one of the most horrific skulls he has produced.
One can have fun while looking at a Mexican skull and perhaps enjoy it if one eats one of those colorful “Day of the Dead” candy skulls. But when one looks at an American skull, it is meant to send shivers up your spine. Mexican skulls smile at you while American skulls give you a ghastly look. This says a lot about the two cultures and how each group of people relates to the death experience.
To see the use of bone-like forms in Mario Castillo’s drawings, paintings, and prints from his Osseous Period go to:
You may see traces of bones in the following works:
Following the steps of Calavera Art in the Mexican tradition, many Chicano artists like Mario Castillo, have taken this subject and made it their own, allowing humor to brush-up against death. In Mexico, death becomes an integrated part of life.
In this category there is a Calavera titled “The Birth of Death 2”. To see another Mario Castillo piece about “the Birth of Death” please go to:
The Birth of Death