In Roadmap, Enrique Chagoya arranges a cast of mythic, religious and political figures in an ambiguous, open-ended poetry of forms. Depicting a conflict between the many faces of fundamentalism and the secular force of imagination – embodied here by Lewis Carroll’s Alice – the artist raises questions about borders and rigid beliefs which are intentionally left unanswered. Accordingly, the tension in Chagoya’s tapestry lies in the subtlety of its internal relationships; it is unclear who holds the power, and though there is clearly an exchange of energy at hand, its nature and result are left to the viewer’s imagination.
Roadmap’s logic is unfettered by ideology, culture, or even gravity as its shifting layers of meaning circle in the air. This perpetual flight is mirrored in the tapestry’s iconography of passenger jets, military helicopters, and UFOs; the dodo and the flamingo; even in Chagoya’s use of the Arabic nastaliq script, whose form was inspired, legend has it, by Persian calligrapher Mir Ali Tabrizi’s vision in a dream of geese in flight. (Roadmap’s calligraphy delivers an ancient aphorism, dating from the 12th century A.D.: “The road to Mecca is full of music.”) Wary of the hubris by which artistic “statements” that presuppose a fixed perspective unwittingly clip their own wings, Chagoya opts for a plurality of concepts animated by the unknowable. His work is a zone of play in which the mythic and the historic converse freely, laughing and mourning in a language that humanity may never translate.