Dried calabash as a canvas

Guajes, or calabashes, are traditionally used by farmers to drink water and take them along the fields

The artist and his dried calabashes as canvas
Florián López and his creations – Photo: Mitzi Olvera/EL UNIVERSAL
English 28/10/2018 15:52 Domingo Valdez Mexico City Actualizada 15:56
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Florián López Guerrero says that the inspiration to create really Mexican craftwork came when he was away from the country, in Denver, where he was painting a mural. Today, he creates “Victorias”, painted dried calabashes, also known as Lagenaria siceraria or “guaje” in Mexico.

He named them “Victorias” after Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, where he hails from.

Guajes, or calabashes, are traditionally used by farmers to drink water and take them along the fields, and now Florián has turned them into an art object. The plastic artist, who lives in Querétaro, says that this idea was born in Denver, Colorado, in 2001.

Away from Mexico, he painted a “guaje” he saw in Denver, where many people use them to make refuges for birds during the winter. They hang them in trees; the birds arrive and protect themselves from the cold.

“This project was born in the U.S., but in here I thought about giving it a national connotation, basically female characters,” he says.

He can create a pelican, a naked woman hugging the sun, a mermaid, or a turtle, using the dried calabash as his canvas. Florián says that the creation of a piece can take up to 12 hours of constant work.

Pelicans, women, parents, children, turtles, anything can be painted into the calabashes. He says that he can paint sea creatures, as well as scorpions, snakes, eagles, among many other animals.

He says that he has painted around 500 pieces and that people's response has been very positive, as they pay him the price he suggests and don't try to bargain, as they know it's an original piece and of great quality.

Florián says that “they have bought many pieces as original Mexican gifts to send to 20 different countries. I like that, it's very exciting because I've been told I'm doing something similar to the Russian Matryoshka dolls. And far from considering it as an aggression or my work not being appreciated, because I try to make a Mexican piece when they compare your work to a craftwork from another country, that is good. It means I'm on the right path.”

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