Originally from Peru and now based in Québec, Canada, painter and digital designer Ernesto Reategui (born 1982) studied the creative arts – painting, sculpture, photography, animation – at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia as well as other studios and workshops in Lima. Recently, he completed a programme in industrial design at the École des Métiers du Sud-Ouest de Montréal. He came to Montréal as a student in 2013 but after loving the creative environment of the city, decided to stay back in Canada, expand his horizons and establish himself as an artist. Ernesto has also lived in Mexico and the US.
Of late, he has been at work on a project called “Techno-Paganism”, which he calls a fusion of “transhumanistic futurism” and “pre-Columbian primitivism”. He explains: “The idea came as a reflection on the technological world in which we live today, where the Internet and digital networks have created a collective memory, which now surpasses the knowledge of all human beings. Our pre-Columbian indigenous ancestors also had a collective memory that was expressed through art. A compositional art based on the universal norms and laws of their worldview was spread throughout the continent for more than 3000 years. We know that the societies of the central Andes shared the same knowledge with the Maya, Olmec, Aztec, Mapuche and even the Hopi Indians in North America. They created their own collective consciousness, which was stored in the form of the timeless art that they produced. The aesthetics of Techno-Paganism combines patterns of pre-Columbian Andean design with the iconography of the digital age.”
Ernesto begins his painting process by ordering and balancing the space of his canvas. After making sketches and testing colour combinations on paper, he proceeds to CAD programs such as Inventor, Solidworks, Photoshop and Illustrator. His work is influenced by a wide range of artists and cultural products – European painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon; Japanese manga artists Yukito Kishiro, Masamune Shirow, Katsuhiro Otomo; sci-fi movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator, Matrix.
What we find in his art is an odd but intriguing era and arena inhabited by a peculiar breed of beings. These aren’t robots but humans whose faculties have been rigorously upgraded. Biology and machinery are inseparable. One wonders what has become of feeling and reason and free-will. These super-humans indeed resemble the old deities of ancient America in face and form.
“What I’m trying with my work is to unite and build bridges,” Ernesto says regarding his intentions. “I’m attempting to create art on our questions about technology, the dilemmas of the digital revolution and what the technological future holds. But I am also applying to it all the maxims that have endured over time and continue to govern us. As an artist, I try to show a new point of view. The road ahead is very long and artistic evolution never ceases to feed.”
The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (2013) by Max More and Natasha Vita-More (editors)
Pre-Columbian Art (1998) by Esther Pasztory