The Man Behind the Alebrijes

The Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the AlebrijesThe Man Behind the Alebrijes


11:29 am | December 19, 2014

Alebrijes are painted figures created out of paper mache. The forms are surreal, combining animals to make new creatures.

Padua Designs welcomed one of Mexico’s premiere paper mache artists Saturday December 13th, for his opening exhibit of Alebrijes, including new artistic experiments in the metamorphosis of his fantastic sculptures. Joel has shown his Alebrijes throughout the United States, including The Eye Gallery in Philadelphia, The Nomad Gallery in Boston, The World Bazaar in San Diego, and The Folk Tree Gallery in Pasadena.

We spoke with Dolores Kroop from Padua to learn more about Joel and how he became a master of his art.

“Joel started working with Pedro Linares the creator of the art form “Alebrijes” when he was just a boy,” starts Kroop. “Pedro Linares was an artist who become very ill in the 1930′s and in his illness saw the magical metamorphosis of insects and animals into fantastical creatures in his dreams. When he came out of his illness Pedro Linares began to create these paper mache creatures which he named “Alebrijes”.”

Linares’ work grew in popularity and notoriety, with artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera becoming fans and collectors. With their help, the art form gained worldwide popularity.

“It was into Pedro Linares’ studio that Joel went as a young boy to learn this new art form.”

Kroop explains Joel’s process, which is as mysterious as his art:

“Joel learned to create his own imagined metamorphosed creatures by delving into his own imagination. As he starts working with the paper mache, he sees with his hands the creature that will emerge. He lets go of his imagination in both the forming of the creature and then with his painting of the figure, giving each sculpture its unique character.”

Many of his pieces are still available to purchase at Padua DK Designs. If his art inspires you, Joel will be returning to Padua in March to teach students how to create alebrijes themselves.

Padua DK Designs is located at 821 S Raymond #30, Pasadena. For more information, please call (626) 441-5061 or visit