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Mexican artists visit Ottawa to exhibit at La Petite Mort Gallery

By Adria May on April 10, 2014



Ruban Morales at the printing press inside La Trampa, Mexico City. Photo: Adria May

Ruban Morales at the printing press inside La Trampa, Mexico City. Photo: Adria May

I was in a taxi in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico. The streets were filled with people walking about, crossing the street at random. We turned off into a quieter section, with some corner stores and small food stands in the neighbourhood. I was on a mission to find  La Trampa Gráfica Contemporánea, a gallery and printing studio, in the Colegia de Las Vizcainas, in Mexico City.

Guillermo Trejo, a print maker and instructor at the Ottawa School of Art, suggested that I visit his friend of many years Ernesto Alva, the gallery’s director. As I learned from Guillermo, Ernesto and a collective of Mexican artists had a partnership with La Petite Mort, and would be coming to exhibit in Ottawa throughout April. Works from La Petite Mort were also hung in La Trampa!

La Trampa was difficult to spot, but I finally approached a sixteenth century building with a set of large wooden doors. Above it was a small balcony overlooking the street. I thought, what a distinct treat it was to visit this small Mexican contemporary studio and gallery with Ottawa connections, in a sprawling metropolis of over 21 million people.

Ernesto greeted me at the door and led me up the stairs to the gallery area that overlooks the printing studio. The art throughout is cool, edgy and eclectic.  I then met Omar Arega Morales, Veronica Bape, César López Catsuu and Ruben Morales Lara whose works are now on display at La Petite Mort, along with Guillermo Trejo’s.  I also met La Trampa’s cute dog, Chicho. The artists and I talked over beer and the Mexican special liquor, mescal. It was the first time that most of the artists would come to Canada. It also became apparent to me that this visit wasn’t just about visiting a gallery, it was also about friendship.

This sentiment was echoed by Guy Berube, gallery director of La Petite Mort: “Showing at La Trampa was much more than I expected. I have done many collaborations in the past, and the usual expectations are that people want something from you, which is very normal, and to be expected in the art world. However, with La Trampa, it was much more than that. It felt like we were seeing old acquaintances; the friendship was immediate. Perhaps Latin culture reminds me very much of my French Canadian background.”

The La Trampa gang in Ottawa L- Cesar, Veronica Bape, Guillermo Trejo, Omar, and Ernesto Alva

The La Trampa gang at Somerset and Bank in Ottawa. Photo: Ernesto Alva

La Trampa, which was an initiative of both Ernesto and César  has been a space for experimentation, development and exploration of graphics and other formats of the current visual language and also functions as a meeting place and gallery to give contemporary artists exposure. It was launched in 2009. You too can have the experience of meeting La Trampa’s artists at their vernissage  on Friday, April 11 from 7-10 p.m, with an after party at the Mercury Lounge with mescal and champagne! Want to know what it’s like to visit, La Trampa Gráfica Contemporáne? Take a look at Apartment 613’s photo gallery.

Guy first met César López Catsu last year when César displayed his works at an  international indigenous art exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada called SAKAHAN and he felt a bond with the artist. After he learned about La Trampa, the two arranged the exchange with La Petite Mort.

Ernest and his print Photo by: Adria May

Ernesto and his print
Photo by: Adria May

The exhibit at La Petite Mort is called: “Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom / Arriba, Abajo, Encanto, Extraño, Cima, Fondo”. The exhibit consists of six different types of “quarks”. The works are therefore constructed from a range of materials, and including paintings and several prints. Each of the Mexican artists has two linear meters to show what suits them according to their own interests, taking into account that at least one of the exhibits have been held in La Trampa Gráfica Contemporánea. Art is available for sale.

I asked Ernesto what he was looking forward to most regarding his visit to Ottawa. He said: “Lo que queremos es mostrar nuestro trabajo, conocer gente y lugares hermosos y divertirnos lo más que se pueda.” or “I want to show our work, meet people, and see as many beautiful places and things as possible.”

Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom / Arriba, Abajo, Encanto, Extraño, Cima, Fondo” runs at La Petite Mort Gallery at 306 Cumberland Street, from April 4 to 27. The vernissage where you can meet the artists is on  Friday, April 11 from 7-10 p.m.  After-party at the Mercury Lounge.