This series originally titled 3rd Mexican killed (in reference to third trumpeter killed) was inspired by the news of a violent weekend of gang related slayings, where Mexico’s top musicians were slaughtered for having their ballads associated with rival gang members.
A trumpet player was found dead with his hands and feet bound and a nylon bag over his head in southern Mexico, the third murder of a musician in Mexico in less than aweek. Jose Luis Aquino, 33, played for 14 years with Los Conde, which was founded in Tututepec, Oaxaca, and later moved to the resort town of Puerto Escondido.
Aquino was found in southern Mexico, unlike two earlier victims discovered last weekend — Sergio Gomez, a singer with K-Paz de la Sierra, and singer Zayda Pena — who were found in a northern province of the country.
Valentin Elizalde was killed in November 2006, after his song To My Enemies became a drug lord’s anthem. However the recent murders have targeted artists who sing mainly about love and loss, leading to fears in Mexico that mainstream singers will be at risk if their music becomes associated with rival gangs.
Jonathan Martinez, 22, and Gustavo Alejandro, 35, from the local band La Excelencia were murdered in a bar Vida Divina in the capitol of the Mexican state of Jalisco by four suspected gang members.
When their set drew to a close La Excelencia were angrily goaded into playing two more songs before the propertier of the bar called time at 4am. The crowd proved tough when one of the four suspects threw a grenade onto the stage, injuring one and causing a panic stricken audience to stampede towards the exit. As customers and the musicians ran for the door, the four men opened fire.
I took inspiration from the style of Mexican ‘miracle’ or ‘votive’ paintings to depict these contemporary scenes. Mexican ‘votives’ (aka miracle paintings) are normally small paintings, created on roof tiles or small plaques that show a moment of miracle or humility where a person asks for help from a saint and is delivered from disaster or death.
These works alongside others will be on display at Mexicasa in Stratford, (377 High St, London, E15 4QZ) until December 22nd 2018. (www.mexicasa.co.uk). Mexicasa is a big beautiful space located in the other side of Stratford, just below my studio. They do authentic, well priced and delicious food and I must say their Margaritas are life affirming. There will be a closing party Thursday December 20th, where art work will be available for purchase as well as a fine selection of prints, both framed and unframed. Come and join me.