Contemporary Art from Mexico City: Montserrat Morales and the Complexity of Simple Things



Montserrat and I were booth neighbors at Fountain Art Fair in New York last March. 

When I’d looked at her artwork on the wall I wasn’t really sure what it was. It seemed like a transparent plexiglass frame with something in it, something hidden that you could see only when spotlighted with the little torch hang next to it.


That artwork was just one little example of Montserrat large body of work marked by her signature technique: acrylic engravings on plastic layers. 

These pieces have translucent qualities and acquire the color that the environment gives them. When the viewer spotlight them with a flashlight the shadow, or more accurately, the reflections on the wall, reveals details that you couldn’t see in the engraving. 

These mysterious, layered works suggest the deep spiritual nature of their creator. 

Who is Montserrat Moreles?


She was born Coyoacán, México D.F., a little town where peyote ceremonies lead by local shamans are still a big part of the native’s spirituality.

In 2002 Montserrat travelled to Los Angeles to attend a workshop on art and alternative materials. In 2005 she co-founded the “Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado”, La Esmeralda”, which was focused on researching new possibilities of representation, seeking for a result that would combine organic beauty and the complexity of simple natural things.


She couldn’t reach this effect through traditional artistic media like painting, sculpture and photography. Therefore, she began exploring different tools and techniques such as plastic, gel, glass and polyethylene. 

In 2008 Montserrat enrolled at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota. While over there, the University went through a struggle against its privatization by the Uribe´s government. After several clashes, some of Montserrat’s classmates were missing or dead; among them one of her dear friend, who was only 22 years old.


Montserrat believes that “art has the power to open new spiritual and emotional horizons to humanity; you just got to have the right intention.” According to this belief, she engaged in many social art projects.

In 2011 she started working for the Delegación Ixtapalapa in DF, which organized festivals, art shows and cultural events for the local community. She taught art classes to street gang members who were doing graffiti and were living in the marginal zones of that region. Unfortunately the workshop had to be closed due to the death of one of the kids in a fight between the local gangs.


The artist is interested in color intended as light spectrum rather than as a pigment. Because of the game of light and shadow that her works establishes, each viewer has their own personal perception of each piece.  

She experiments with different tools to intervene on unusual surfaces, including  knives, blades, gouges, pressure tools, heating tools, drills, acid, acetone and alcohol. Some of those tools are the ones she uses to engrave graphics on plastic layers, filled with gel and paint. 

Her goal is to reach a double lecture of her works and to visually unify it through the exploitation of different physical elements such as space, time, planes, lights or shadows. 

Her visual compositions are graphic interventions in a tridimensional space.


Like the infinite reflections in a water drop or the intricate structure of leaves and flowers that seem like having solid colors, Montserrat teaches us to go beyond the surface and embrace and appreciate the diversity and complexity of our reality, which we all contribute to create.