Angel Poyón


Ángel Poyón (Guatemala, 1976)

Poyón is an important voice of the experimental contemporary art movement in Central America. Departing radically in execution from the traditional artistic expression of his indigenous background, Poyon’s pieces nonetheless probe assimilation and identity.

Angel Poyón lives and works in Comalpa, Guatemala where he was born.  He believes that his work is not limited to creation but to truly connect with the “Rajawal” (spirit) of the object itself, it is in this way that the object intervened becomes a work of art.

In Poyón's culture any object is submitted to a ritual, especially those that are close to people. The objects have a spirit that needs to be found.  When this happens there is a union between the object and the person who uses it; it is a relation that transcends the matter and is a channel where both parts connect and accompany each other in a lasting relationship.

Poyón applies this idea of finding the spirit's object to conceptual art; he explains that, if the spectator allows himself to enter into the energetic space of the conceptual artwork and find its spirit then he will be able to understand it because he won´t be seeing the piece with his eyes but with his mind. He reminds us that conceptual art is an invitation to think, to question what is being put in front of us.


In this project Poyón explores the possibility of opening new gates of communication through the use of examples that show particular ways of communicating with the outer world. He recuperates significances that belong to his own history potentiating their symbolic universe without allowing their folklorization.  He recognizes what is endemic to his culture and what is foreign and proposes a strengthening of its identity to avoid its dissolution.

He uses the mattock, an instrument with a large tradition in different cultures and puts it in the same level as the pencil or the chisel.

To Poyón, the “indigenous art” is found in the ceremony, in the planting, in the weaving, in the ceramics, in the stone carvings that include experiential and relational aspects.


“Where the trees speak, the rivers speak, the stones speak, where the animals speak to us. Where the kids used to listen to nature.”

“The oral transmission of my mother, of my father, in the dimension where grandmothers live, where grandfathers live, where great-grandmother and great-grandfathers live.”

This series is a testimony that speaks to us; it is composed by natural objects to read with your mind instead of your eyes, in this way Poyón says we will be able to connect with “Rajawal” and its spirit of creation.


This series is inspired by a phrase Poyón heard when two old women were talking as a funeral procession was passing by; one woman said to the other “Ri q´achalal ni b´e pajamel” (our relative is going to the void).  These words invited Poyón to observe carefully the objects of daily life where he found in the spiral weaving of the hat, the perfect analogy for the sentiment of the old ladies.

The construction of the hat allows two spaces, one that is its tangible and one that is in fact, a void. This shape couples perfectly with the two dimensions of life, “The first journey” which is the physical life where we are now, and a second one “The empty dimension” which is the dimension that our ancestors inhabit.


This series reflects on the boundaries and frontiers in territory, although it reminds us that these limits have been instated through political, economic, ideological, social and cultural constructions that are often frail.

Poyón traces mental maps on top of hats suggesting that boundaries only inhabit in the human mind.


Poyón annuls the utopian images as well as the predetermined or imposed names by the Gregorian calendar, a mechanism used in the attempt to eradicate the Mayan names.

“Day out of time, time to go up and meditate in the hills. In the solstices of summer and winter, it is moment to leave the body and inhabit the space also called green day.”

The clock marks 6:30 pm in the tread where the shoe is hanging.  At this time of day in most of Mesoamerica the light of day is gray, reason why there are no shadows and mountain is completely green.


No estoy Aquí, pero estoy / I´m not here, but I am

Each plaque contains a text written by Poyón; they are ironic phrases that he has been writing over time, he conjugates each phrase with electro domestic appliances playing with them as if they ware religious images on tomb stones. 

Poyón comments on how nowadays his community has left behind the gatherings around fire or stones, to receive the oral history of his people to enclose themselves in their rooms to connect with tv, radio and the internet leaving behind the narrative literature that is being replaced by the appliances with “an electronic soul”.

His work has been shown individually at:  Poporo Project, Guatemala(2016); T2o Gallery, Murcía, Spain (2012); Teorética Foundation, San José, Costa Rica (2011); DesPacio Gallery, Costa Rica (2010) in addition to other individual exhibitions in his hometown in Guatemala.

Poyón has participated in collective shows such as:  The Central Matter, Washington D.C, USA (2017); Arco Madrid, T20 Gallery, Spain (2015); 19 Biennale Arte Paiz, Guatemala (2014); Arco Madrid T20 Gallery, Spain (2013), Selection at the Sayago & Pardon collection Latin American Art, California, USA (2013); ZONA MACO, T20 Gallery, México (2012); Scope Miami, Jacob Karpio Gallery, Miami Florida, USA (2012); ArtBo International Art Fair of Bogotá, Jacob Karpio Gallery, Bogotá Colombia (2012); I Triennale Caribe, Dominican republic(2010); +/- Esperanza , Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, Costa Rica; Memento morí (e)Star Gallery, Lima, Perú (2010); Performance, Real Collage of Art, London, England (2009); Tai Pei Fine Arts Museum, Tai Pei, Taiwán (2008); Cisneros Foundation Miami Florida, USA, Haydee Santa María & Casa de las Américas, La Habana Cuba; Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C; Spain Cultural Center, Guatemala (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Costa Rica (2006), among others.