Place and Placement: Symbolic Geographies in the Work of Gilbert “Magu” Luján

University Art Galleries, University of California, Irvine

Selections of drawings and prints by Gilbert “Magu” Luján that demonstrate the artist's evolving ideas on the historic, social, and conceptual significance of the landscapes of the Americas. 

Pictures here is the background of the installation "Trailing Los Antepasados". The painting functions as a kind of backdrop for a three dimensional altar-like setup.

In this drawing from 1989, Luján depicts an anthropomorphic dog representative of an artist, literally creating the desert landscape that is the brick and mortar of Magulandia.

In this drawing from 1988, elements of Luján's formative and conceptual concepts converge: anthropomorphism, graffiti, mythic elements of Magulandia and Mesoamerican architecture.

This produced by Luján for as a proposal for the city of Santa Monica, California, the artist re-imagined one of his iconic "stick dog" characters jumping across the equally iconic Santa Monica beach.

This untitled study for a pyramid structure is one of produced by Luján, developed alongside anthropomorphic animals, lowriders, and Mesoamerican glyphs that filled Magulandia.

The flaming heart situated at the horizon of this untitled drawing which is characteristic of the geographic and affective symbolism that characterized the artist's work.

Mesoamerican pyramids are a common motif throughout Luján's work. This untitled drawing combinines pre-Colonial architecture with the concept and symbolism of "Magulandia".

Scholar Karen Mary Davalos proposes that Luján’s dog pyramids and Kachina structures are merely contemporary technological developments, not “neoindigenous” designs or appropriations of the past."

This untitled drawing of Mesocamerican architecture is common in Luján's rich and expansive blueprint of Magulandia, where ancient wisdom is infused into the present.

Adobe is a common word, material, and symbolic signifier throughout Luján's work. It plays a major role in the foundation of the concept of Magulandia.

Just as anthropomorphic animals play a major role in Luján's interdisciplinary body of work, architecture also takes on human characteristics in the artist's drawings and paintings.

In this proposal for Galeria Otra Vez, Luján envisioned an immersive environment encompassing all aspects of "Magulandia", including anthropomorphic animals, native plants, and Mesoamerican glyphs.

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All images courtesy and copyright The Estate of Gilbert "Magu" Luján, unless otherwise noted.

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