Following studies in architecture and a career as a painter, Gabriel de la Mora left behind painting to create artworks from found materials. In his practice today, the artist creates seemingly minimal yet extremely complex surfaces that are underlined by intense mathematical precision. Continuing his interest in science and evolution, he began to make geometric compositions with human hair, feathers, or eggshells, which all contain genetic material. Most recently, he has turned to butterfly wings. De la Mora addresses the notion of time through his practice — the time spent collecting elements and the care that is taken in creating the surface. Butterflies themselves are a metaphor for the process, as they undergo metamorphosis.
The artist’s interest in butterflies also stems from their rich cultural history, which can be traced back 2,500 BC. The Aztecs and Mayans believe that butterflies are souls of the dead who are visiting earth, and in Ancient Mexico butterflies were significant due to the duality of their existence — butterflies are one of the only species that are born and die twice through metamorphosis. Thus, the artist chose to display the wings in a square, which references the importance of duality in Mexican culture, and ultimately the duality of order and chaos.
“Butterflies were important insects in the Teotihuacan, Mixtec and Aztec cultures, mainly. They were represented in murals, stone and ceramics. The butterfly is a symbol of fire, of the soul and represents movement. It was also believed that the souls of the dead were transformed into butterflies. Butterflies were a source of inspiration in pre-Hispanic poetry, mainly written in Nahuatl. Its transformation process, metamorphosis, was something that also attracted attention: from egg to caterpillar and from cocoon to butterfly, it is as if it were born and died twice.”
– Gabriel de la Mora