Mauricio Cortes Ortega is a Mexican-American multidisciplinary artist living and working in New York. His work explores and questions the intricacies of colonial Latin America, working in a range of mediums like painting, sculpture and drawing he proposes a narrative of loss hinged on the promise of gain. His work reimagines history by transforming recognizable symbols of famous crowns and textiles, using abstraction he renders subtle presences of emerging figures. Cortes attempts to separate the condition of the physical body and push to augment the psychological consequences of absence. His projects commence with research on specific objects from colonial history, be it known historical crowns like the Crown of the Andes of Colombia or textiles from a certain era and location like the Rio Grande Sarape from the southwest, Cortes looks to history for visual clues to better understand the complex history of colonialism.
In his 2-d work Cortes pays homage to the colors and style of Mexican textiles. His mark-making closely hugs the surface, the abundance of stripes and colors slow down the read of a tattered history of colonialism, conquest, and crossing. Cortes uses a wide range of media and processes from intaglio printmaking to drawing by hand using oil pastels, bingo markers, spray paint, acrylic paint and ink. The repetition, symmetry, and line-work in the image is akin to weaving, lines bow upward and outward forming structures that sit center in the composition. His sculptural work oscillates between traditional ceramics to found-object installations. His recent clay work uses slab construction to make biomorphic forms comparable to crowns and finished with a deep-black mirror glaze, the sculptures redact the decorative, proposing forgotten and faceless rulers. In his found object sculptures he uses air conditioning units, t-shirts, mannequins and terra-cotta colored siesta men figurines.