Published by RM. Text by Dr. Lakra, Gabriel Orozco.
A refined woman gazes elegantly from the cover of a mid-twentieth-century Mexican magazine--its title, Blanca Sol, lays bare the publication's Eurocentric character--but the cover girl's loveliness is compromised by the penciled-in skull that replaces the right side of her face. In another image, a sleek gentleman who might otherwise be debonair becomes fearsome and fierce with the addition of a pattern of contoured lines, like Aztec facial tattoos, over his entire face. This is the work of Mexican artist Dr. Lakra, who superimposes mystical, ancient or funerary symbolism--gang tattoos, bones and skulls, Aztec warrior heads, spider webs, serpents and demons--onto vintage advertisements, girlie pinups, Japanese prints, baby dolls, cast skulls and the like, attaining an effect that resembles a Dia de los Muertos altar slyly erected in place of a kitchen table in the home furnishings section of a Mexico City department store. "In one way or another, the noncivilized human, the nonrefined, the primitive, is always being repressed, in a way that's almost criminal," Dr. Lakra, who also works as a tattoo artist, has said. "I think that through these themes you can define the essence of culture." This lavishly illustrated volume contains 120 color images of Lakra's work, plus a contribution from renowned Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. Born Jerónimo López Ramírez in 1972, Dr Lakra is an artist and tattooist based in Oaxaca, Mexico. Lakra has shown his work internationally, at Tate Modern in London, The Drawing Center and Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and elsewhere.
Published by Editorial RM. Text by Abraham Cruzvillegas.
The art of embellishing popular reproduction usually entails irreverence, whether it be Duchamp's famous additions to a postcard of the Mona Lisa or the kinds of tweaking seen on subway advertisements. The Mexican artist known as Dr. Lakra embellishes 1950s pinup-magazine reproductions to introduce a content not only irreverent but uncomfortable (and certainly contrary to the intentions of his soft-porn source material)--mortality. The series of works that comprise this velvet-bound volume began with a collection of vintage magazines about nudist camps that Lakra bought at the Sunday market on Brick Lane in London. He set to work despoiling the hygienically upbeat sensuality of these nude models with a morbid parade of skeletons and ghouls, who paw and loom at their prey with crude, lascivious glee, dragging both sex and death down to the level of earthy fact. Lakra's ghouls are not mere doodles; in their visual character, these creatures draw on the Day of the Dead repertoire of demonic forces, Surrealist dream fantasy, Goya, Bosch, Medieval illumination and other such traditions, updated with the contemporary edge of tattoo art. Health & Efficiency is an illuminated book of mortality for the age of the centerfold. Dr. Lakra began as a tattoo artist in Mexico City but soon brought his skills to bear on pulp imagery, etching his designs on the skins of characters found in vintage magazines. "Lakra" is a Spanish colloquialism meaning "scum" or "joker" and also refers to a blemish or scar, and by extension to a socially disgraceful group or individual.