8/8/12 – Mexican Restaurant Senoritas provides Inspiring Dining Experience: Contemporary Art and Design infiltrates Mexican Day of the Dead Culture
Senoritas is an authentic Mexican Restaurant, which is located within the city of Melbourne on Little Collins Street. The entire restaurant features a unique and a distinctive style, which reflects the Mexican Day of the Dead Culture. Senoritas also offers a range of authentic Mexican food not to mention cocktails, margaritas and good quality tequila, which also compliments the inspiring and decorative illustrations of the Mexican sugar skulls.
Last night I visited Senoritas for a birthday party and the whole restaurant was saturated with Day of the Dead imagery including aprons, wine glasses, bathroom decorations, paintings, artworks, three dimensional installations and even the bathroom tiles. There were so many different representations of the Mexican sugar skulls, I didn’t even know where to look next although the art and the design was definitely inspiring, which made the dining experience worth while.
The very back wall featured the works of Slyvia Ji who is a contemporary artist and illustrator who explores the iconic imagery of the Mexican sugar skulls through the female psyche. The paintings definitely added vibrancy to the restaurant, which also complimented with the other artworks or designs within the space. At the very front entrance there is also a very large 3 dimensional installation of a paper mache, skeleton wearing a long black dress, which also features similarities to Tim burton’s gothic creations.(Joshua Liner Gallery, http://joshualinergallery.com/artists/sylvia_ji/)
Even the bathroom tiles feature vibrant or illustrative representations of the Mexican skulls, which was definitely creative and inspirational. According to the official Senoritas website, Linda Temani provides a Spanish influence to the restaurant along with a team of ‘interior designers’ who assisted with the overall style of Senoritas. The restaurant also reflects femininity within the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, which is also emphasised through the artworks that are on display. Most of the images or designs feature portraits of young women who feature colourful or decorative illustrations of the Mexican sugar skulls.
Mexican Day of the Dead: Death and Femininity
The other day I visited a photography studio, which also raised the question how gender is portrayed within the Mexican culture, especially the Day of the Dead Festival. This is a really interesting question, which has also emphasized certain aspects of the research that have not been taken into consideration until this point in time.
According to Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayar, the image of death within the Mexican Day of the Dead is considered as female, which may influence the art and the design that is associated with the celebration.
Carmichael and Sayar quote “In Mexico death is often personified as a woman. This is not logical because men and women are both destined to death: we die our bones becomes sexless”(Carmichael & Sayar, 2003 p.124) In regards to Carmichael’s and Sayar’s comments, death doesn’t even have a gender, death is neither male or female, which also questions why certain cultures associate the image of the skull with masculine or feminine qualities.
The Mexican sugar skulls definitely features very vibrant, floral and decorative designs, which may associate death with femininity in a creative or an artistic manner. Face painting is also another popular activity that is associated with the Day of the Dead, which also replicates a similar design to the Mexican Sugar Skulls. (DeMello, 2012 p.38)
Over the past few months I have recognized that this particular art form or design has inspired the Western Culture in contemporary art, design, popular culture and digital media. Many women or female models have portrayed the Mexican sugar skulls through the application of make-up and face paint, which also questions how the female form is used to establish an association with death.
This particular art form also questions why there are more women than men that actually participate within the process of face painting. The Mexican sugar skulls feature very whimsical and vibrant aesthetics, which may appeal to a female audience. In comparison, the visual research has also identified masculine representations of the skull within the Western culture through contemporary fashion, popular culture and interactive media, such as computer or video games.
Recognizable images such as the Jolly Roger or the grim reaper have attracted a male demographic, which also invites contemplation into the visual aesthetics that are used for each design in order to construct male or female attributes.
Jolly Roger and the Grim Reaper: The image of the skull in the Western Culture feature Male Characteristics?
Black and white are commonly used for the representation of the Jolly Roger and the Grim Reaper, which also feature very sharp angles, shapes or compositions. In comparison the Mexican sugar skulls feature very vibrant and decorative compositions through the use of love hearts, flowers or other organic shapes. Does colour have a huge impact on gender and is colour able to modify one’s own interpretation of death in general?
It seems rather odd that death has a gender in the first place, although the image of the skull may have been influenced by certain cultures or traditions, which all have their own interpretations of death. Overall Senoritas provides a very inspiring atmosphere though the interior design, the decorations, the artwork and even the kitchen ware, which reflect the cultural symbology of the Mexican sugar skulls as well as the Day of the Dead Celebration.
I have used images from the internet because I did not have a camera with high quality or resolution. If I were to visit Senoritas again, I would ask If I would be allowed to take photographs with my SLR camera, stay tuned!
Carmichael, Elizabeth & Sayar, Chloe, The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico (Texas: Sixth University of Texas Printing) p.124
Demello, Margo, Faces Around the World: A Cultural Encyclopaedia of the Human Face (California: ABC – CLIO, 2012) p.38
Joshua Liner Gallery “Artists: Slyvia Ji”, Joshua Liner Gallery, 2012, http://joshualinergallery.com/artists/sylvia_ji/ (Accessed 8/8/12)
Senoritas: Authentic Mexican, “About Senoritas”, http://www.senoritas.com.au/about/ (Accessed 8/8/12)