LOS ANGELES – With the conviction that death is beautiful and we should not fear it, Mexican painter Jesus Molina is inspired by “deceased partiers” and has made it his task to make them live again in his artwork using recycled materials at his automotive paint and body shop.
“The Day of the Dead is not a day of sadness, but of happiness for those of us who are alive with our dead,” Molina told EFE at his shop in San Fernando, California, where he is creating artwork for an upcoming exhibit.
“Death scares many people. But death is beautiful because it brings us to God and to our family in heaven,” the 34-year-old artist said standing beside his painting “Noche de fiesta” (Party night) depicting a skeleton wearing a dress dancing in the street.
Molina, who came to the US in 2004, creates canvases and other works of art using a mixed technique, starting with sheets of metal that would have gone into the trash. Some of his creations he gives to friends whose cars they repair at the body shop.
With the skill of a painter who has worked at it since childhood, in 2011, Molina began creating richly expressive pieces made to order for his neighbors.
His first exhibits were held in San Fernando’s La Galeria Gitana and at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery art room in Santa Monica.
“I like working with materials that people don’t need any more to take advantage of the characteristics of the passage of time itself,” he said.
“The rust on metal sheets inspires me and I adapt my figures so that the rusty color of corrosion is an artistic part of them,” he added.
One of his works – “Se hacen milagros” (Miracles happen) – consists of a rusted metal sheet that he mounted on an old piece of wood that cargo trucks used.
Another work – “Anuncio de Jesus” (The Annunciation of Jesus) – shows a crucified Christ on a wooden door, which he found in a dump.
“The scarcity of things makes the artist more creative,” said Molina, who began painting as a child with brushes his father gave him on wood, metal and pieces of leather discarded by a upholstery factory near his home.
Today, he is the owner of NGS Custom Graphics, where he specializes in refurbishing classic autos to “all their (former) glory.”
“Jesus Molina’s artistic expression sends the message that discarded things can be transformed into beautiful objects with creativity and art,” Ernesto Vega, the spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, told EFE.
And Molina emphasizes that “The art of the Day of the Dead is very much rooted in the collective Mexican conscience.”