Capsulas de Autodestruccion, 2011

Francisco Esnayra: Placebos

Commentary, Exhibitions, News

By Margaret Failoni

Representation in art, or it’s absence is the dilemma of the 21st century. In an era of globalization, artists no longer feel the need to necessarily cull from past national cultural roots and/or “isms”. Instead, artists from Berlin, New York, London or Mexico, as is the case with Francisco Esnayra, promote dialogue by using contemporary art to create a dynamic that is at once active and contemplative, creating a fascinating conceptual reflection of an almost distorted but definitive sense of being. Therefore, it is not by chance that Esnayra refers to the recent ‘pill heads’ he creates as placebos.


He has purposely chosen the word used in the medical field for substitutes of actual medication, in which it is the mind from strong suggestion that heals, the placebo as a substitute to heal the ailment. In the case of Esnayra’s placebos, it is man’s quest to heal the soul. It is our thoughts which can tangibly effect our bodies, our reality, as if to say, it is one’s mind which is the placebo.

The oeuvre “Capsulas de Autodestrucción” (Capsules of Self-destruction), which was recently shown in the Chicago exhibition Border Crossings, sponsored by the National Museum of Mexican Art, is a four piece work of a self portrait with a capsule protruding from the heads: the visages or faces degrading from a healthy image to a more anguished expression with the color of the resin slowly fading until progressively ending in death. The portion of the face has a patina resembling wax, whereas the capsule is a shiny, plastic-like surface similar to an actual medicinal capsule. The character in the work is harming himself; the malaise all starts in his head until it actually becomes physical, or as the artists says, it’s as if the subject has swallowed a pill for accelerated death.

In another work, Esnayra describes the “Capsula Nirvana” as a portrait of introspective satisfaction. “It is the portrait of a person who has reached illumination through thought; it is as if his mind has transcended the physical space containing his body to elevate up to the heavens in the form of a brilliant column.” The “Secuencia Samsara” (Samsara sequence) is inspired by the concept of the Buddhist reincarnation. It consists of a life cycle in which the character is experimenting the various traps set by his ego until reaching death, to then reincarnate into a positive being, filled with calm and meditation in order to reach the nirvana.

There is a lovely small sculpture of a cow, meant to be an homage to our Creator. When confronting a cow, a multitude of questions arise which the artist attempts to tie in with his own existence and inevitably perceives life and universal energy in an animal which actually lives a cycle of consumption for human beings and which is termed livestock or product. A perfect example of Placebo is a work which needs no explanation. Esnayra presents us with a large, perfectly shaped capsule made out of tightly pressed furry animals, cats and dogs in a multitude of colors; the animal, the household pet being the ultimate placebo for love in modern day society..

Still in his twenties, Francisco Esnayra impresses us with his conceptual interpretation of the psychological ailments that plague our far too frenetic present day society and the mis-placed values of human relationships. It is impressive that one so young is able to depict the human maladies and the pain of the 21st century. He does so with a superb sculptural technique. He explores the ego, the unspoken, man’s eroticism, using his work as a form of expiation and inviting the public to witness and share his own fragile condition of being.


In this exhibition, the resins and bronzes are made from molds taken from patiently sculpted matrices created in Mexico City foundries. The exquisitely sculpted clay works are created in his studio in his native Chihuahua. The flesh toned clays which he generally uses are native to that region. On the other hand, the jewel like colors chosen for the resins each have a significant reason for being, depending on the interpretation of each figure and the mood he wishes to create in the eyes of the viewer.

The work not only creates interesting opportunities for public dialogue but also instigates the production for new works and ideas. Not withstanding his youth, the dexterity with which he sculpts combined with the exciting intellectual process always present, this recent body of works places Francisco Esnayra on the list of the more exciting artists in present day Mexico and without a doubt, soon to be recognized internationally for the amazing talent that his is.

About the Author:
Margaret Failoni is an independent curator residing in San Miguel de Allende Mexico.

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Sergio Gomez is a Chicago-based visual artist and creative entrepreneur. He is owner and Director of 33 Contemporary Gallery, Director of Exhibitions at the Zhou B. Art Center, founder of and Amplified Art Network, Creative Consultant for Idea Seat Marketing & Advertising, Contributor for Italia Arte Magazine, and curator and producer of the National Wet Paint MFA Biennial. In 2014, Sergio co-founded the program Art NXT Level to help artists manage thier careers.

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