Honouring Frida & Diego
How do you remember friends and family who have died? In Mexico, the dead are honoured on the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which occurs on November 1 and 2 every year. One of the traditions associated with this holiday is the construction of an altar called an ofrenda. Friends and relatives build ofrendas in homes, offices and cemeteries to honour the departed with personal offerings, such as favourite foods, drinks and yellow marigolds known by their Aztec name of zempoaxochitl (meaning “flowers of death”). We have invited Mexican artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez to construct this ofrenda to honour Frida and Diego, and for you to make your own offerings to honour the memories of these two great artists.
Carlomagno Pedro Martínez
born Oaxaca, Mexico, 1965
Carlomagno Pedro Martínez is a Mexican artist who creates ceramic sculptures based on his interpretation of Mexican legends and local Oaxacan traditions. The ceramics are made in the tradition of Barro Negro, a firing technique that produces a black surface. His work is held by several North American museums including the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Martínez is currently the director of the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca, a museum dedicated to exhibiting handcrafts of the state of Oaxaca.
Judas Figures & Catrinas
In this space, you can see three Judas figures and Frida and Diego as catrinas (well-dressed skeletons). The Judas figures are derived from the Mexican tradition of making large papier mâché figures during the Catholic Holy Week – known as the Semana Santa in Mexico (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) – to represent the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, one of his apostles. Judases are meant to address all evils such as devils, corrupt politicians and military abusers through humour and caricature. The Frida and Diego catrinas are a nod to the practice of portraying loved ones as skeletons during the Day of the Dead festival on November 1 and 2, a tradition popularized by the Mexican graphic artist José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913).
The AGO invited Shadowland to create the Judas and Posada figures you see in this gallery. Shadowland is a long-running Toronto-based theatre company that stages spectacular performances and expresses evocative visual imagery through the use of masks, puppets, stilts, live music and fire. Many performances involve community members in a collective creative process. These five figures were made by Shadowland artists Anne Barber, Brad Harley, Angela Thomas, Kristi White and Barbara Klunder.