In 1936, a Mexican artist named Pedro Linares López fell into a feverish dream while unconscious in bed. The dream depicted his own death and rebirth mountainous region inhabited by fierce, fantastical creatures, each of which was shouting “Alebrijes, Alebrijes, Alebrijes!”
Upon his recovery, Linares set about to re-create the beasts in the form of papier-mâché figurines so his family and friends could see what he had dreamed about. His sculptures gave birth to the brightly colored Mexican folk art known as alebrije.
To honor his contribution to art, Google dedicated its Doodle on Tuesday to celebrating the artist’s 115th birthday.
Born in Mexico City on June 29, 1906, Linares was trained in the art of cartonería, or the use of papier-mâché to create hard sculptured objects such as piñatas, human masks and calaveras, the jaunty skeletons central to.
But his real success came when he fell ill at the age of 30 and dreamed of a strange forest where he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly transformed into a strange, unnaturally colored animals. He saw donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head — all chanting the nonsensical “Alebrijes.” The terrible sound lead to a Linares suffering a horrible headache before waking up.
Over the years, he refined his artwork, creating colorfully patterned sculptures featuring unusual combinations of reptiles, insects, birds and mammals like the on depicted in Tuesday’s Doodle. His renown grew and soon his art was admired and in demand from fellow iconic Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, among others.
In 1990, he was awarded the National Prize for Arts and Sciences in Popular Arts and Traditions category — the Mexican government’s highest honor for artisans. He died two years later at the age of 88.