Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gerardo Yepiz launched the first Mexican Mail Art website in 1995, his downloadable stencils revolutionized how a generation of young artists, from Mexico City to Tijuana, used street installation and graffiti as a critical forum. Known as Acamonchi, a slang term for piggyback riding in northern Mexico, Yepiz adopted the strategies of street art as the starting point for his fine art while also distinguishing himself as a graphic designer working with clients on
both sides of the border including the Nortec Collective, MTV, Reebok, Vans, Adidas, Rioja wines, Pepsi, Warner records, Osiris shoes, Tribal Gear and Obey Giant. Like his moniker, which, he explains "doesn't really mean anything, it's just a dumb, silly sounding word," he uses humor to create graphic works of art that probe serious political and cultural
issues. As hedescribes it, "poster illustrations or stickers are
common resources of visual communication; in the hands of Acamonchi,
and in combination with graffiti tactics, they become veritable
terrorist instruments, and the activity becomes a kind of cultural

Acamonchi began his career in the mid-1980s as part of a
cross-cultural underground scene in southern California and northern
Mexico that was heavily influenced by fanzines and the skateboard-punk
countercultures. Music developed his political awareness, and the
history of Fluxus inspired his passion for Mail Art. His early work
focused on images of the Mexican television host Raul Velasco and
assassinated presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio. According to
Acamonchi, Velasco represents the mindless entertainment provided by
the Mexican media. He describes Colosio-shot on live television in
1994, during a campaign rally in Tijuana -as the Mexican equivalent to
John F. Kennedy. Colosio's face is a poignant reminder of political
corruption and Tijuana's notorious outlaw reputation. Acamonchi makes
his point, however, with ridiculous images of Colosio in a cosmonaut
helmet, Colosio crossed with Colonel Sanders, and a "Blaxploitation"
Colosio just to name a few.

Recently, Acamonchi has focused his attention on painting. His densely
layered panels and murals integrate his signature street graphics
-posters, stencils, and graffiti -into abstract fileds of color. In
this new work, Acamonchi experiments with painterly techniques using
aerosol paint, ink pens, and more traditional pigments, Although his
explorations are clearly inspired by street art, his distinctive
visual statements are something new. "Post-graffiti Art," as this kind
of art was called when graffiti artists first began to show in
galleries in the 1980s, does not encompass Acamonchi's strong
affiliation with street art radicalism, and articulate his serious
painterly intent. Once again, Acamonchi is inspiring his colleagues as
he explores new forms of expression.

Rachel Teagle Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego