Mathias Goeritz (b. 1915, Poland; d. 1990, Mexico) 

Mensaje num. 5 Timoteo 6:6, 1959 
Perforated tin on velvet on panel 

Mensaje num. 5 Timoteo 6:6 is an early example of Mensajes (Messages) series, which the artist initiated in 1958 after the death of his first wife. He referred to these metal pieces, covered in gold-leaf as “material prayers,” describing how the light reflected on their surfaces dematerializes them, like matter being transformed into spirit. Six gold plaques are placed on a red velvet background within this collection work, each displaying sequences of nail-hammered perforations. Five create rectangular shapes and linear compositions, with the remaining piece displaying an angulated serpent form. The latter is a recurrent symbol within the artist’s practice, most famously used in his large metal sculpture El Serpiente, made for his Museo Experimental El Eco in 1953, and influenced by Mexican Pre-Hispanic stone sculptures. Serpents are associated with several Mexican gods, such as Quetzalcoatl (‘Feathered Serpent’), Xiuhcoatl (‘Fire Serpent’), Mixcoatl (‘Cloud Serpent’) or Coatlicue (‘She of the Serpent Skirt’).