Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Arts currently has hundreds of pieces on exhibit, all of which are part of the Saber Acomodar collection, and perhaps one of the most interesting artists currently in this show is Jorge Méndez Blake. All of the works in this collection are from Jalisco, Mexico and represent over one hundred years of craftsmanship from the artists of Western Mexico. Méndez Blake  is one of the most eye catching artists on display because of the tension felt when looking at his drawings and the way that they pull you in with their detail and their ties to literary elements. He has five pieces: “Toute Pensée émet un Coup Dés I, V, VI, VII” (2013) and “De una obra inacabada” (2014). Each piece dramatically depict shipwrecks in overwhelming storms.

Méndez Blake puts his own twist on a traditional seascape by turning the horizon so that it runs diagonally across the work, increasing the tension created by the stormy waves. This makes the viewer feel slightly uncomfortable, seasick even, because he makes you feel like you are in that storm with the ship and you can see the waves rolling onto the ships.

“Toute Pensée émet un Coup Dés I, V, VI, VII” are all based on “Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard” (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance) which is a poem about the relationship between chance and order by Frenchman Stéphane Mallarmé. Each drawing is done only in a single colored pencil color which creates immense depth in each work.

Méndez Blake did not, in fact, create these colored pencil drawings himself; he hired another artist to draw them. In addition to this, they are not original creations because they are copies of other famous works by several different artists.

However, Méndez Blake did put his own spin on them by aligning all of the masts of the main ships in the scenes so that they are perfectly vertical. This serves to make the viewer feel more anxious about the fate of the ships and the people who are depicted in the works.

“De una obra inacabada” is a drawing that is based on an unfinished Charles Dickens work titled “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” This work is done in the same style as the preceding four drawings and tells its own story through a storm.

Méndez Blake gives further meaning to this piece by placing dozens of crumpled pieces of paper around the periphery of the room that these works are showcased in. The purpose of these being to symbolize writer’s block and the consistent stemming of writing talent. This couples powerfully with the drawing because of the unfinished nature of Dickens’ novel.

The goal of all five of these illustrations is to give visual meaning to literary references through complex drawing techniques. These pieces bring stories to life in a way that has never been done before, and offer a unique view on what would ordinarily be a traditional seascape.