On Common Grounds
by Ryan Mario
Artist Alejandra Palos Ortega amongst her sculptures of varying mediums
Born in 1971, Alejandra was raised in the Baja California Peninsula of Northwestern Mexico. Its close proximity to surrounding waters means that the ocean is the epicentre of tourism with its rich biodiversity of marine life. However, the ocean provides much more for Alejandra who puts creativity at the forefront of her essence – driftwood and other objects washed ashore were adopted into her sculptures, thus materialising her love for nature and its forms into something tangible.
As a well-travelled individual who has lived in multiple countries to date, Alejandra soaks in what is characteristic to the locations and adapts them for her art. Currently residing in Dubai, the multiculturalism of the region became a
kaleidoscopic view through her constructions. No matter the experiences anywhere, however, the harrowing calamity in Japan remains the most pivotal in influencing her artwork of today.
"My strength as an artist lies in the quality of each moment."
On March 11, 2011, what began as a powerful earthquake off the north-eastern coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, soon became catalytic as it initiated a series of large tsunami waves measuring up to 10-metres high that inundated the coast and devastated the inland cities.
Alejandra was a resident of Sendai during the incident. Albeit unscathed from the disaster, she recalled the dread setting in as she feared for her impending doom when the tremors occurred. Thereafter, she recounted having to queue alongside the other victims for basic essentials like water since all commercial buildings in the area were non-operational. It was then that she understood the fragility of the balance between nature and the survival of humanity, and it is in that balance that became the foothold of the Alejandra’s creative philosophy.
The Jade Skirt
30cm × 30cm × 23cm
Cement on glass base
Assimilating the Aztec's perception of devotion and fear, the element of water evokes similar feelings of duality between tranquility and respect
31cm × 27cm × 14cm
The ephemeral qualities of a flower's life cycle is captured within its form and aroma.
Versatility is an essential trait in every artist, and Alejandra has nothing short of it in her repository of skills. While dabbling with a range of materials, she found the multiple states of cement to be most befitting for her style, whereby she is able to work out her constructions in phases. By employing everyday objects, Alejandra fabricates temporary moulds that shape the cement into raw forms as it begins to cure. At this point, she works swiftly; every line, indentation, and refinement all done with seamless precision while the semi-hardened paste rapidly rigidifies, ultimately immortalising her creations as concrete sculptures.
Resolute as their forms may be, they remain stark contrasts to their embodied concepts of fragility, making Alejandra’s artworks elegant yet compelling. In the end, perhaps it was her deep-seated intention to shape the forces of nature into palatable aesthetics for consumption.