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A CAUTIONARY TALE

ANDRÈ PAGANO

A Cautionary Tale is a series of paintings that grow out of a larger body of work investigating the effect of colonialization and colonization on Latin American nations. Inspired by the artist’s historical and personal inquiry into the fractured identity of his native Puerto Rico, Andrè extends this exacting lens to the indigenous history of Mexico in this new body of work. 

 

The featured triptych entitled “Los Espíritus de Moctezuma II” uses layered portraiture with potent historical imagery to investigate one of the most well-known conquest narratives from the history of European contact with Native Americans. In this large-scale three paneled work, Andrè aims to interrogate Moctezuma II as a historical figure and the multitudinous ways in which his legacy has been both lauded and derided. Andrè embodied what he describes as “the duality of Moctezuma II” in this portrait of the king flanked by two indigenous spirits draped in native flora and fauna, echoing the iconic representation of moral conflict depicted by an angel and a devil on one’s shoulders. Visible in the paintings are recognizable animals such as the Mexican Eagle (Northern Crested Caracara) in addition to culturally significant mythological creatures such as La Lechuza, and the Feathered Serpent, which are all visually remixed to offer multiple interpretations to the diverse, and often times conflicting representations of Moctezuma II as a leader and warrior. 

 

In the center panel, Moctezuma II reaches out to offer the viewer the pyramid, as a way to implicate the receiver of this narrative, ultimately challenging the viewer to decide how their presence factors into this historical tapestry. 

 

In folklore, “A Cautionary Tale” is a tale told to warn a listener of its danger… Similarly, but divergently, in this series, the paintings and their embedded histories implicate the viewer to decide for themselves: Which narratives are the dangerous ones?