Creating Through Political Turmoil: Honduras to New London-Based MOTHE

Editor’s note: The following article was written from an interview conducted in Spanish. All quotations were translated by the author.

 

Unsuspecting visitors be forewarned: at Expressiones cultural center in New London, attendees at off times might be greeted by two English Shepherd dogs with voluminous hair, one large, young and sourced from Indiana, the other smaller, older and traveled all the way from Chile.

The dogs belong to Expressiones executive director José Garayochea, who will surely remove them for official Expressiones events, like the gallery opening that will welcome Honduran artist Carlos Lamothe on March 17. For his work, Lamothe goes by the pseudonym “MOTHE” and, having arrived in New London just over a month ago, will be the artist-in-residence at Expressiones through March. Despite this title, Lamothe told the Voice: “I don’t present myself as an artist—more than anything a creator. I’m an experimenter.”

Barra Vieja Charter City (2014)
Photos courtesy of Carlos Lamothe

To carry out his experiments internationally, Lamothe came to New London from San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city in Honduras near the country’s Caribbean coast. A graduate of University of San Pedro Sula’s Faculty of Architecture, Lamothe said that cityscapes and city life inform his work, which at the moment largely consists of painting.

“First of all, I’m considering the effect of cohabitation in this new space,” said Lamothe, speaking to how the move from San Pedro Sula to New London is affecting his work. He added that he is influenced by “the observation of society in the streets, logically, architecture as well—and the history that there is here.”

Lamothe clarified that observers should not look to directly identify his themes and influences in his work, explaining that “those aren’t specific points that are going to print directly onto my works.” Instead, he elaborated: “I had some points of artistic and personal curiosity that I wanted to bring here, so there are details that I’m incorporating…experimenting, perhaps, along with the change in space and people and all of that.”

As Lamothe spoke about the importance of space and society in his work, it became clear that he recognizes art as a political concept. On what he hopes to bring to New London, Lamothe said: “perhaps in general, the artistic development that is manifesting in my country.” He connected the artistic scene in Honduras to its current political status by noting: “Honduras is having a politically difficult moment…since the coup we lived through in 2009, the society has entered a state in many ways full of intensity, so in the artistic community, art expresses [that].”

Paisajes de la Noctambulidad (2014)

While tumultuous, this political energy, according to Lamothe, has invigorated the artistic community and inspired support for it. “I believe and feel very positive that currently, the artistic movement is revealing itself with greater force,” Lamothe explained, “society is no longer taking it so much as something banal; they’re viewing it as something that truly must be supported.”

Like Lamothe’s artistic concepts, this notion also relates to the idea of space. Lamothe said that while there is still progress to be made, “artistic creators have more bravery to leave their creative space and, perhaps on a public or private wall, put up their works.” He added that beyond this first step, government intervention is still needed, as government support could allow artists to occupy “expositional spaces with specific requirements, not just a wall of a bar or a restaurant.” That, Lamothe said, is part of why he appreciates Expressiones so much.

“Spaces like this offer themselves to [artistic development],” Lamothe noted. He highlighted the difficulty of “making it so that your artistic expression complements your lifestyle in a way that is efficient and not disproportionate.”

“As an artistic creator,” he remarked, “well, I have to eat, right?”

Regarding the clear relevance of supporting the arts in the current U.S. political climate, Lamothe said: “I think in these moments, we’re seeing something significantly similar. So I think we’re understanding each other more… I see that in the work of local artists, these political or general situations are directly expressing themselves.” But, Lamothe clarified, the treatment of political turmoil is not the only concept that Latin American art has to offer.

“Specifically, color,” Lamothe said with a laugh, “Latin America has so much color… I know these spaces [like Expressiones] are so developed that the notion is more specific and a little more conceptual [than ‘color’]… but it’s always interesting to present an example that’s more direct, not so minimalist.”

Lamothe’s own work, he said, has been developing in a more technical direction, evidenced as he said that, “We can see examples of mine from past years that perhaps have more spontaneity in experimentation. Currently I have more studies; I have more analysis.” He laughed and added: “I have more headaches. Sometimes I miss being a little more like, ah—there it is.”

El Obrero (2016)

In his artistic concepts and development, Lamothe referenced “a personal investigation of the history of Latin American artists,” naming Rufino Tamayo (Mexico), Frida Khalo (Mexico), Diego Rivera (Mexico) and Oswaldo Guayasamín (Ecuador). Outside of Latin America, he listed Jean-Michel Basquiat, a U.S. artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, as well as Pablo Picasso (Spain), Le Corbusier (Switzerland and France) and Marc Chagall (Russia and France) as influences. But above all, he referred to the importance of architecture.

“I always try to [incorporate] architecture at the base of everything, because it’s like life, right? The architecture of life—we need to know how to organize ourselves in order to be able to move,” Lamothe said.

Brought to New London by a fellow Latin American artist himself, Lamothe is the third artist-in-residence from Honduras at Expressiones. Lamothe explained that Luis Landa, a friend of his, traveled to Expressiones for a residency from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, and endorsed the experience in casual conversation.

“[Landa] sent in my information,” Lamothe said, “I had faith and confidence and well, Expressiones contacted me.”

For those who wish to learn more about Lamothe and his work as MOTHE, his March 17 gallery will take place at Expressiones at 84 Bank St., located near Exchange Bar & Grill and Hygienic Art Gallery. Anyone who cannot attend is invited to view Lamothe’s work on the Facebook page MOTHE.