These whimsical paper mache pieces by Oscar Hernandez are called Alebrijes. Unlike the wooden, copal Alebrijes that have become a very collectible tradition in the highlands of Oaxaca, the original alebrijes were created by Mexico City artist Pedro Linares ( June 29, 1906 - January 25, 1999) from paper mache. These incredibly creative interpretations of animals were a vision Linares had at the peak of a high fever during a severe illness when he was young. In his fantasy-dream, he saw supernatural animals unlike anything on earth - and woke up screaming "Alebrijes! Alebrijes! Alebrijes!"
Following his recovery, Linares began creating whimsical animals from paper mache - and the style became famous around Mexico. Today, paper mache pieces sell for hundreds to thousands, and the tradition is celebrated each year in Mexico during their annual Alebrijes festival. If you are ever in Mexico City prior to Dia de Muertos, you will see dozens of enchanting alebrijes on display along the Reforma by the Angel of Independence.
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Oscar Daniel Chávez Hernández was born in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México in 1988. He grew up in an area influenced by the indigenous Purépecha people. This culture is characterized by considerable mysticism, magic and traditions, where death is honored and celebrated. From there emerged his pleasure for themes related to death and mystical creatures, which flourished in this land of rich folkloric themes and an abundance of folk art. He developed his love of these artistic manifestations as a young boy, since he was surrounded by artisanal paper maché works, a technique he learned from his parents who transmitted this profession as a family legacy. Being a child of artisans, his love of the arts continued to grow until he made his way to university, where he studied in the fine arts school in the state capital Morelia, where he learned new techniques and enriched his work as an artisan. The art that Oscar creates utilizes a variety of processes. At times he now uses molds for series of works which he previously created individually, giving each piece a unique and distinctive touch. Other methods in his work include modeling with pieces of paper and cardboard with a wire frame. The pieces made by this technique utilize a unique technique that is difficult to replicate, thus each piece is unique and filled with energy, joy, forms and colors. The pieces that Oscar creates are diverse as one can find in a great variety of forms, such as skulls of various sizes and colors, mythical creatures, with a great preference for dragons, Medusa’s, devils and griffins, among others. He also creates pieces using forms and colors of everyday life, putting a multicolored touch to animals such as deer, roosters, Mexican walking fish, as well as a variety of works that represent the folklore of Mexico with cheerful and fanciful “alebrijes,” fictional animals conceived through a combination of real and imaginary animals. Year after year one can find Oscar participating in the annual art festival that takes place in the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga in Pátzcuaro, during the seasons of Day of the Dead and Easter. In addition, he has been invited to participate in the prestigious “Feria Maestros del Arte” that takes place in Chapala, Jalisco. He has also facilitated workshops and classes where he has taught paper maché techniques in a variety of spaces with students of diverse ages, including children and adults. Currently Oscar is a university professor at the Universidad Intercultural Indígena de Michoacán (Intercultural Indigenous University of Michoacán), teaching the technique of paper maché and assisting students with their individual art projects.
CUSTOM ORDER A SIMILAR PIECE
If you would like a piece on our site that is sold out, please contact us about custom orders. While no two pieces are alike, this artist does create different interpretations of his creations.