For Chilean muralist Inti Castro, walls serve as reflections of a rich visual heritage. From his hometown in Chile to cities throughout the world, one can look up at his fantasy aired art. Inti, who shares the name of the Incan sun God, draws from a multitude of cultural motifs in his work. Through paint, Inti pays homage to his Latin American culture by integrating Indigenous visual signifiers with Spanish Catholic imagery. This duality serves as the initial mode in which he plays with themes of social justice, history and culture.
By creating characters that breathe life into spaces, Castro welcomes new perspectives to longstanding ways. Although the art is deeply tied to Inti’s passionate vision of his country’s culture, murals like the Martyr push the audience to reconsider all systems woven into our ways of life. Questioning our cultural archetypes allows us to view our ways under a new lens.
Inti’s commitment to showcasing these elements of his culture, aligns with the United Nations’ Social Development Goals of Reduced Inequalities. The varied visual history of Chile and Latin America is promoted and given a platform. By sharing the stage with prominent elements of Catholic imagery, the audience is exposed to precolonial mythology and customs. Representation counters discrimination of these social perspectives.
Inti’s work often adorns the sides of buildings. Large murals take up significant space almost as if they’re looking at their surroundings and the passing onlookers. Partially, the orchestrated disconnect comes from the doll like structure that these characters possess.
At a glance, one can almost picture how these figures might occupy their streets. While visually stunning, some of the work can appear subtly melancholic. In Ekekos, the subject’s bodies look malleable. The two figures appear as if they’re in the middle of being toyed with, pulled by different directions. The name of the mural is a reference to the god of abundance El Ekeko. This homage extends to the murals depictions of a bountiful life, as both murals are adorned with items from various walks of life.
Inti’s murals offer an outlook to the importance of what an audience sees. In the case of Santa Muerte, a mural completed in the Anhangabau valley of Brazil, Mother Mary can be seen as a skeleton. Well, half of the figure is.
In Inti’s monograph, the Anhangabaú River is associated with disease by the Tupi-Guranai people. This Indigenous language group believed that it had ties with a cursed devil. By respecting the space and its history, Inti link this depiction of Mother Mary while acknowledging indigenous cultures and practices.
Inti’s outlook was influenced by his country’s history with the Pinochet dictatorship. As artists and political opposition was exiled and targeted, muralists began challenging the repressive cultural hegemony that had arisen. Inti’s art follows in the footsteps of many that utilized art to represent the new realities of Chile's culture. This perspective of the social fabric is what inspires Inti to use cultural images into his reimagined symbols.
A reassessed archetype which features in Inti’s work is that of the clown. A clown is seen by Castro as having a sacred role. San Duguero satirizes and points the finger at his reality, thus his social sphere falls into paradox. A clown plays with social expectations of what our norms look like or how they appear. Inti aims at addressing how cultural perceptions form. The clown’s colour palette resembles both of the dolls he dangles between his hands.
Inti Castro’s work uses spaces to warp our perception of society’s preconceived notions. His art embodies a fantasy-like aura that shifts symbologies’ form. Yet the themes showcased aren’t as abstract as the subject themselves. By linking social patterns and connections art expands our view on history. Through art, Indigenous culture and Spanish Catholic values coexist on a wall. By sharing the platform in which they’re depicted, Inti brings attention and respect to these overlooked cultural elements. As an audience, challenging the origins of our popular visual culture legitimizes overlooked sources of knowledge.