The renowned Mexican-born multidisciplinary artist Sergio Arau – known predominantly as a cartoonist, painter, musician, and filmmaker – has, of late, added yet another string to his ever-expanding bow: that of fashion designer. Arau, whose artworks are continuously imbued with immense symbolism and references of the natural as well as the supernatural, has lent his distinctive satirical artworks to the formation of the new apparel brand, DESMODER Enterprises. In a joint partnership with friends and fellow art lovers Alejandro Ordonez and Javier Aguirre, Arau recently launched DESMODER Enterprises with an exclusive three day Pop-Up Shop and art exhibition at Rcnstrct Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
To assist with DESMODER’s launch, Arau enlisted fellow visionary artist and fashion designer Chloe Trujillo to collaborate on a joint exhibition, as part of the three day event, of artworks influenced by their shared admiration for the creative process, music, mysticism, and political satire; and the result is a treasure trove of artistic works that blur the boundaries of freedom and captivity, life and death, and sight and blindness. The exhibition, aptly titled Colors And Messages, further examines questions of mysticism, faith, duality of and in being, as well as what one might infer as forces of good versus not so good.
Providing an artistic gateway into the lives of these two incredibly talented multi-faceted artists, and although the works themselves illustrate each artist’s distinctive voice and style, their cohesiveness lies in their richness of color, pronounced references to their cultural backgrounds (Trujillo was born in Paris, and happens to be the wife of Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo), influences from music, and a satirical commentary on politics and the underlying nature of what is and isn’t.
We spoke with DESMODER partner artists Sergio Arau and Chloe Trujillo, as well as Alejandro Ordonez about their new “Art x Fashion” venture:
Art Zealous: Tell us how this collaboration began.
Alejandro Ordonez: There are actually two separate stories here: A) The Art Gallery Show with Sergio Arau & Chloe Trujillo “Colors and Messages” story and the DESMODER brand story.
For the Sergio and Chloe story, I had the pleasure of introducing them, having worked in the past with Chloe on a NYFW Digital Couture project and then afterward on other projects. I have also worked with Sergio on curating several shows at museums with him. The three of us met at one point and thought it would be great to collaborate on a mixed art, music, and fashion project. The result is this Art Show “Colors and Messages”.
For the DESMODER brand story, that developed out of mine and Sergio’s friendship and our shared love of art. Sergio showed me a sketchbook with a lot of ideas and initial concepts, and we thought it would be great for a line of clothing; one that differentiates itself from the urban Mexican folklore art Sergio is known for called “Art Naco.” Sergio and I took this style of art and decided to call it “Metafisica,” but still encompassing Sergio’s sensibilities turned into designs specially created for their brand.
To be clear, the DESMODER brand is the brainchild of mine and Sergio’s, and the art show/ pop-up shop was a collaborative effort between Chloe, Sergio and I.
Art Zealous: What does the name DESMODER mean?
A.O.: DESMODER is a made up word that was rooted in the Spanish word Desmadre. In our attempt at Americanized slang with the use of the English word Mother (which is Madre in Spanish), we added the “Des” before. Desmadre in Spanish means several things, like having NO direction, having a loss of control, people with NO moderation and so forth. DESMODER sometimes gets used in Latin America signifying similar things.
Art Zealous: What is the main overarching theme in this exhibition?
A.O.: “Colors And Messages” is the theme of the showcase. It boils down to Rock n Roll fashion. Both artists have their musical endeavors- both are painting artists and both have fashion driven brands. Chloe has Chloe Trujillo Haute Couture, and Sergio, along with me and Javier, now has DESMODER Urban Couture.
Art Zealous: What is the meaning behind the theme “Colors And Messages?”
A.O.: “Colors and Messages” is a theme that mixes both the artists’ visions and lives, which are inspired by music, art, and more. Their arts are full of vibrant colors and deliver messages like a good song delivers a message when it is interpreted by the listener. Their artworks – both colorful and intricate – deliver a message to each viewer.
Sergio Arau: It is an invitation to the opportunity of new experiences since life is not linear. So, here is a three-dimensional look that touches a lot of points. Between Chloe and I, color has been a uniting factor and our messages are connected by our intention as perceived by the viewers.
Chloe Trujillo: Using art as a messenger to reach people’s heart and soul. Art in all its forms is a very powerful tool to bring out messages, and colors have a strong impact as well. I think it’s also what Sergio and I both have in common: the use of colors to deliver messages.
Art Zealous: Sergio and Chloe, you both have extensive musical backgrounds. How would you say your music has influenced your work as artists?
Sergio Arau: My imagery is rocker driven and has a certain rhythm to them. Also, they are based on populist culture images and sayings, that usually confront “The System” without being cliché.
Chloe Trujillo: Well for me, art and music are very strongly connected. When I paint, I have melodies and words that come to me and when I write music, visuals come to me, so I often work on both at the same time. Many times I’ve been told that I should focus on one or the other (meaning art or music) but it doesn’t work that way. Thanks to technology, now I can record my musical ideas straight on my phone as I am painting, it’s easier and faster, and I can get back to the recording when I’m done painting. When I write music, I often write my lyrics on paper and if you saw my notes, you would notice tons of drawings amongst them, these become full paintings later on. That’s how all my paintings have a story, a song.
Art Zealous: Chloe, a lot of your works feature themes of mysticism and the supernatural. Tell us a bit about the meanings behind some of them.
Chloe Trujillo: I always leave it up to the viewer’s own interpretation. I consider my paintings a lot like dreams, with tons of symbolism and each can find a specific meaning according to their own experiences. The way I work is like a meditation, visions start happening and I’m compelled to paint them. I trust the process and start working. I can only explain my version of the meaning of a painting once it’s finished and I can analyze it. There are some universal meanings to some elements and symbols of course, but just like reading tarot cards, something will pop out for you that wouldn’t necessarily have that strong of a meaning to me. We are all on our own journey here and have different messages we need to see.
Art Zealous: Sergio, a lot of your works feature themes of hyper-realism. Tell us a bit about the meaning behind some of them.
Sergio Arau: It is poetic criticism that I call “Netafisica” (Spanish made up term that fuses the words truth and metaphysics). My art derives philosophical conclusions about life, human conditions, as well as others.
Art Zealous: Chloe and Sergio, what are some of the metaphors present in the artworks?
Chloe Trujillo: You have to find your own interpretation. Like I said previously, there are plenty of symbols being metaphors having a different meaning to each viewer. I can say the skull is a symbol of death, but it can be rebirth, it can be a celebration of life, it can be vanity…it also depends on the context in which the image of the skull is presented.
Same with the eye, it can be the all-seeing-Eye, it can be Source, it can be the pineal gland, the eye of Horus, the window of the Soul, clairvoyance, etc, etc.
For example, I painted blue roses on “Blessings.” Those roses came to me in a vision after I thought my painting was complete, so they were painted last. They are placed on each top corner of the piece almost framing the angel sending blessings. Those blue roses symbolize to me a dream to strive for, but it’s also unattainable love, something so strong it can’t exist in our reality, and those who have tried to reach it have died trying (skulls on the bottom of the painting) or maybe they have first died and their souls or spirit have reached their goals. I love to hear what others can see in my work, it’s a fun and very informative game.
Sergio Arau: I try to be obvious, yet leave it to the viewer to decipher. The gun in a venom bottle is a funny manner to touch a heated subject matter in a visual form, and metaphorically of course.
Art Zealous: Alejandro, what does the DESMODER collection comprise of?
A.O.: DESMODER is a starting brand of Sergio, Javier, and I – it is starting as a create-on-demand T-shirt apparel brand, and will expand further.
Art Zealous: What’s next for DESMODER Enterprises?
A.O.: DESMODER recently opened its web store this October, and we plan on launching in Mexico City in early 2019. Visit. www.desmoder.com
Additional reporting: Terry Doe
all images // courtesy of artists