Ortiz, Virgil – “Saints and Sinners” Bust (2005)
This is an important figurative work by Virgil Ortiz. It is thematically based on the historic Monos figures from Cochiti Pueblo which began in the 1880’s. However, more importantly, it is part of his “Saints and Sinners” series from 2005. This was the first major show the gallery did with him and the first where he began the process towards his now famous Pueblo Revolt series. Virgil said of his series in the book, “Revolt”:
“One of the first series Ortiz created as he began to explore the idea of the Pueblo Revolt in his art was “Saints and Sinners” (2005). These figures brought form to various Catholic Saints. Virgil chose the particular saints for a variety of reasons, but most simply reflected the Spanish impact on Pueblo life and culture. It was this loss of Pueblo religion, one of the factors leading to the Pueblo Revolt, which gave this concept such power. As the series progressed Ortiz also believed that there needed to be a counterbalance to these saints. He decided to create a group of ‘sinners’. “You never really know who is the saint and who is the sinner in real life, or as the saying goes, ‘Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.’” Virgil Ortiz: Revlot 1680/2180 by Charles S. King
This figure is important in the series, as it was the first one when he called to tell me about how the show had changed from “Saints” to “Saints and Sinners”! The figure was used on the gallery invitation and I also attached the inside of the invitation as the last image. The figure is also published in the book, ‘Free Spirit”. The figure is made with native clay and painted with wild spinach (black) and red clay slips. The style is in his “S&M” figures which he first made around 2000. Note the use of the sun design around the neck. The pice feels dramatic with the upturned face. The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery, continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary Native clay. It is an exceptional piece and imbued with some amazing provenance and history. This piece is signed on the bottom. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. Included is a copy of the book, “Free Spirit”.