The artist Eduardo Sarabia at the opening of his exhibition in the CAC's central hall where his 'Tú eres otro yo' paintings fill the walls. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

Eduardo Sarabia's leafy invasion of the CAC

The CAC is home to the Mexico-based artist's first European exhibition with a large mural and 30 paintings which occupy the building's central hall

CRISTINA PINTO MALAGA.

On entering the CAC's central hall, there is the overwhelming sensation of being transported to another world. The artist's bold but intricate other-worldly mural and paintings make the spectator stop and think. The CAC's new exhibition, 'Tú eres otro yo' (which can be translated as 'I am another you') is Sarabia's first showcase in a European museum. "I couldn't think of a better space for this huge step in my career," the artist said during the presentation of his exhibition. In the LA-born and Mexico-raised artist's world, the term 'roots' has a double meaning. The winding vines refer to decorations in LA's Latin neighbourhoods, but are also a symbolic representation of the beginning's of his artistic career. "I grew up painting and this is a way of showing a part of my creation," the artist explained.

Fernando Francés, the curator of the exhibition, says the same. "It's like a jungle of brambles that invade a space as if announcing their presence." The influence from his surroundings and Mexican culture which he grew up with runs through the veins of this exhibition, which is packed with brightly coloured acrylic and gold leaf paintings. "The work has been made for this space, I always wanted to have the vines here in Malaga. I worked on them for just over ten days. The vines also represent the future of the place where I grew up," Sarabia states. When the Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, presented the exhibition, he emphasised its great size. "The installation creates a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. A wise decision for this space."

Hidden inside these eye-catching green vines, there is a collection of thirty paintings which simulate a card game with the hand being a key motif. There are also lots of smaller details which spark introspection. "I talk extensively about the total eclipse which is going to happen in 2024, personal stories about a journey I did this summer and memories of life experiences. It's like a nod towards hope," Sarabia said as he explained the series of paintings. There are also references to drugs, sex, violence, weapons and war. "The first few times I saw his work, I was fascinated, not only by its exotic nature but also by the way in which he approaches issues without doing it in an aggressive way. He uses subtle images to refer to customs and traditions in his social surroundings," Fernando Francés explains.

The theme of drugs can be seen in 'Más oro', with animals representing marijuana, heroin and cocaine. 'Tú eres otro yo' has cannabis leaves as the main focus. The gold which is characteristic of his creations is used to represent his family history, energy and the divine. This is noticeable in 'Moneda Dos Pesos y Medio', and 'American Indian Head 2010'. The spectator can also reflect on the idea of healing by nature and introspection. "There is nothing more daring than changing the outside from within, that's where the true transformation lies," said the exhibition's curator.

Mayan greetings

Leaving the spiritual to one side and turning towards the artist's technique, his work exhibits not only sketches and paintings but also ceramic creations which he considers an important feature of his work. "I love drawing, but I also do a lot with ceramics. The drawings are something that I started for this year's project, reflecting on where I am and what I want. I have always been interested in Mayan greetings, so 'Tú eres otro yo' is more than anything an attempt to explain the connection with other people, because you are a representation of me and me of you," Sarabia says.

The connection that the artist draws between himself, his roots and people, allows the visitor to see the world through his eyes, Eduardo Sarabia's 'Tú eres otro yo' will be open until 12 February 2023. "I always think about connecting with my family and the place where I grew up. I love incorporating these things in my work," the artist concludes.