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Chupicuaro Construction Proposals
These works are basically studies for proposals for low relief shaped paintings. In the late 1960’s Mario Castillo became involved with painted sculptures and sculpted paintings. He wanted to erase the line between sculpture and painting so as to create what could be called “paintures”, Castillo’s neological blend of the two words, paintings and sculptures. But he never stressed this term because it is almost the same as peintures, the French term for paintings.

The sixties saw a great deal of experimentation with redefining the role of painting. They no longer had to be fixed to the wall. They left these to enter into the space which had for so long been claimed by sculpture. Likewise sculpture started to deliberately jump upon the walls and take over them. In ancient art, it seems that almost all cultures had practiced a mixture of these two fine art idioms in the painted reliefs that have survived through the ages. But somehow, through the course of time the two art-making procedures became separated into two distinct fields. It was not until Pop art and Minimal art that the two started to converge again.

In answer to this ideology, Mario Castillo responded with his colorful assemblages during his Osseous Period around 1965. But these Chupicuaro constructions are supposed to be more flat and like Shaped Canvases.

To see a Castillo mixed media shaped canvas that is 16 feet at base follow link below. This large painting was part of The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum’s Barrio Murals exhibit in Chicago, Illinois. The panel on the far left has ten different semen samples from cutting-edge artists from the 1970’s from a controversial thesis project burial piece that was censored at California Institute of the Arts:

Life After Cal Arts

Castillo started to construct two of these Chupicuaros out of wood in Los Angeles, California, but then he had to move to Chicago, Illinois to start teaching at Columbia College Chicago and this work was suspended indefinitely. He still has hopes of doing some of these, especially if he were to be commissioned to do a large wall piece based on one of these studies. These lend themselves to be made out of metal, plastic, canvas, wood and other materials. They are meant to be painted, investigating a variety of color themes with the possible use of pattern and collage playing an significant role.

One of the important goals here is for these art works to become objects which incorporate their surrounding context and make it become a part of them. This is accomplished by the fact that they are Bas-reliefs which open up in all kinds of ways to show the wall behind them. In these studies the blank paper acts as the wall and one can appreciate the complexity of the “cutting-into” the work to allow the blank negative spaces (the wall) to become an integral part of the piece.

Many contemporary artists have worked utilizing this unorthodox shaped canvas approach. Here you may look at Frank Stella’s, Jack Reilly’s, and Elroy Christenson’s shaped canvases.