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Pedro Linares Lopez: Interesting Facts About the Alebrijes Creator

Pedro Linares Lopez was a famed Mexican artist, and Google Doodle celebrated his 115th birth anniversary on 29th June 2021. Lopez was known for his peculiar animal sculptures which he named alebrijes. Lopez died in 1992 while his family tries to keep his work alive. Google Doodle stated, “Today’s Doodle celebrates the 115th birthday of a Mexican artist who turned his dreams into reality, Pedro Linares López. His peculiar yet playful animal sculptures known as alebrijes are beloved worldwide as unique products of Mexico’s folk-art tradition. … Thank you, Pedro Linares López, for showing us the power of imagination!”

The doodle of Pedro Linares Lopez’s work was created by Emily Barrera

When interviewed, the doddle maker Emily Barrera said that from the doodle, we can easily make out alebrijes and cartonero which represent Mexican culture. The doodler added, “I was delighted to create a whimsical alebrijes for Pedro Linares’ Doodle. It also felt really rewarding to do something that is strongly tied to Mexico, making me feel more connected to my country”. It seems that Barrera belongs to Mexico with what she claimed as to my country and certainly, she had done justice to Pedro Linares Lopez’s work.

According to Barrera, Pedro gave his creation i.e., alebrijes to his country to celebrate them by mixing multiple animal body parts like a snake the body, lizard legs, bat wings, bull horns, and so on. This creates a unique creature and an interesting one too. Emily Barrera concluded, “I find his work very interesting and eerie, and I wanted to honour him by creating an alebrije by taking inspiration from his most iconic pieces”

Pedro Linares Lopez’s parents were also artists in the 19th and 20th century

Pedro was born on 29th June 1906 in Mexico to parents who were also artists. His father was an artist and Pedro followed in his footsteps. In 1991, Pedro told the Los Angeles Times, “My father was also a cartonero, but he made only masks, little horses, very simple things–he was not a sculptor of papier-Mache. What I began is very different from anything that was done back then.”. Mexican Secretary of Public Education website states that Pedro’s mother and grandparents were artists too and inspired Pedro’s work to a great extent. His family made sculptures out of paper just like Pedro did.

Pedro Linares Lopez claims that fantastical creatures in his fever dreams inspired him to create alebrijes

According to the reports and Google, Pedro became very ill in 1945 and drifted into a feverish dream. He saw fantastical creatures and screamed a nonsensical phrase alebrijes. When he recovered, he made sculptures that he saw in his dreams during fever. The quirky sculptures met success in a little time and Pedro Linares Lopez developed his creations by putting in more colours and combinations like birds, animals, reptiles and insects.

Most of the alebrijes he created was made from paper mâché, cartonera or wood. In 1991, Pedro told in an interview that the creatures he saw in his dreams were ugly and looked dangerous. He fought with gastric ulcers for 11 years and in 1945, he thought that he was on his death bed and went into a 24-hours coma, surrounded by candles. This was the time he dreamt about alebrijes that made him successful later. Although they looked ugly, Pedro wanted to make them but added more colours so that people liked them.

Pedro Linares Lopez received a National Prize for Arts and Sciences in 1990 in Mexico

Just two years before his death at an age of 85, Pedro Linares Lopez was awarded Mexican National Prize in Arts and Sciences in popular art and traditions in 1990. Patrick Polk who was the curator of the arts section at the Fowler Museum said, “The ability of the artist to conjure things that move out of the mind, to present the fantastic. To challenge folks. To make sense of it and revel in the creativity. The ability to fashion the fantastic. These creatures break those boundaries.” While Pedro died on 26th January 1992 in Mexico, alebrijes made by him for Khalo and Rivera are still kept at home in the Anahuacalli Museum.

Pedro Linares Lopez’s art legacy and unique style are secured by his children and grandchildren

Just like Pedro followed his parents and grandparents, his children and grandchildren are following in his footsteps. They continue to create art like his fantastical style and display them in art galleries worldwide. Pedro’s children and grandchildren though add their unique style to Pedro’s alebrijes besides creating figures like pinatas and Calaveras. They also use cardboard figures and other materials to make alebrijes look colourful and playful. 

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