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Alvaro Sanchez

November 22, 2010

Alvaro Sanchez was born and raised in Guatemala City, and he currently lives 10 minutes outside of the city. Growing up, he used art to cope with his war-torn, corrupt city and government. His experiences are evident through the violent, political, and social satire seen throughout his work.

What inspires your art?

My art is primarily inspired in the everyday life, the imagery, the sounds, the smells and the unique visual codes of my city. Also music, literature, painting and cinema mostly.

Why is violence such a large part of your work?

I guess the reason of it is because living here in this city is kind of crazy. You have to think of the past history of my country; we had 36 years of civil war, a lot of civilian killings, political kidnappings and corrupt governments. I was a little kid when that happened; I didn’t know much about it.

But then as I grew up, I found that my family suffered the consequences of war. My mother lost a brother because of the war; and myself being a part of this so-called “Guatemalan postwar generation,” we suffered the side effects of it—I mean, the fact of growing up in a very unstable political country full of incapable people to direct the country in the right way still to this day.

And by the last 10 years, my country is suffering another kind of war: The everyday violence, the gangs and now the drug lords. Sometimes for me, it is very depressing to read the local news papers. They are like a 10 x 12.5 inch catalog of how you want to be killed—sounds scary, but sometimes it is. So, I think living with these images every day in some way affect your point of view of many things. There is a sense of being lost and disenchanted in my country. So in my work, a sense of frustration to see the place you live become another war field while incapable politicians fill our city and streets with huge billboards with fake prosperity slogans saying that everything is going to be OK while they smile at us with their big white bright Photoshopped teeth.

So, I guess it’s a way of catharsis to do what I do [while expressing] my feelings in a very honest way through art; it is a challenge to go deep into the reality of the place I was born and live in.

How has your home influenced you as a person and an artist?

I was raised in a very strict way of religious principles; and most of the schools I studied at were very religious too. I was a little bit pressured with that because since I was very young I always was interested in different things—different music and different types of art, just to name a few examples. So, I discovered that I wasn’t agreeing with everything I was being taught. Schools used to censor a lot of things, but that just made me more curious. I guess that made me find in art the precise dose of curiosity that I was looking for. I think all that baggage in my life is just evolving, and in some way I’m glad to know that is by making art.

For more on the artist, visit

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