Armando Guadalupe Cortés is an artist living and working in the industrial city of Wilmington, California. Originally from Urequío, a small farming community in Michoacán, México, Cortés draws inspiration from every aspect of his two vastly different worlds: sights, history, sounds, routines, smells, faiths, fables…
Cortés’ work can perhaps be broken down into two overlapping categories: the physical and the magical.
Cortés’ works are often an exploration of labor and repetition in both his mechanized and his rural surroundings. Of utmost interest are the endurance and resilience of the communities within these two settings as they face their everyday struggle. These explorations, however, are not done from afar. They are realized through an up close, metaphorical, and often times, physical walk in another’s shoes. Cortés’ sculpture and performance works are highly influenced by personal and communal experience communicated to him via elders in his community, as well as through collective and genetic memory.
It is this collective experience that leads into the magical. As an avid reader of magical realism, Cortés’ work is highly influenced and explained by the genre. Beyond the idea of stepping into another’s shoes, his work is an exploration of what could have been, who he could have been, and who he actually is. These three elements are not always distinct. In exploring the experiences of others, Cortés inadvertently lives out instances of their lives only to find that they become part of his own life for having done so. It is this overlapping that most interests Cortés. As he explains, “the means to an end are often as important, if not more so, than the finished product. The distinction between the two is blurred making them interchangeable.”
True to his words, Cortes often presents work in various stages of production and interaction. Each reiteration holding its ground as a distinct art piece while not denying its past use or hinting at future endeavors. Cortés presents himself likewise; each new work and the process leading up to it become a genuine experience that he carries with him and that plants the seeds for future enquiry. Each work is an attempt at making some aspect of his story, his peoples’ story, more believable.