In her series of paintings inspired by Mexico’s casta paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Cervantes’ imagines the Spanish colonial caste system in Mexico with its strict racial taxonomies and hierarchies. Her engagement with this distinct racial make-up invites the viewer to re-imagine colonial experience by emphasising the deliberate erasure of black bodies from history. Spain’s conquest and subsequent colonisation of Mexico is animated by an overt vulgarity (Matadora, 2011), while other paintings skew representations to complicate classical and abstract formations. The unfolding narrative of domination, subjugation, and submission between individuals plays out through a range of figurative scenarios tainted by sex and violence. Scenes of male castration and bloody revenge that typify the artist’s tongue-in-cheek approach to painting (Horizonte En Calma, 2011) reveal the politics of Mexico’s increasingly hybridised identities.

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