Kuiz López Kalkoatl refers to himself as a man of tradition, yet his life is nothing close to what we usually consider traditional. Since his early childhood it was clear that Kuiz’s destiny was not an ordinary one, a fact which created many hardships and confrontations for him. He always felt that he had been dropped off on Earth by mistake, and did not belong here. He refused to attend school like the rest of his brothers and sisters and strongly rejected the Christian customs and morals common to most Mexican families.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico to a family of indigenous origins, Kuiz was raised far away from the hardships and limitations endured by many such families. One of thirteen children in a family led by a father that owned a shoe factory and was a thirtythird degree Freemason, he was a restless child with many questions that would not let him sleep. He would hear voices that led him to his father’s library and the books that would allow him to understand some of the things that troubled his mind.
At the same time he was taken by his grandmother, a healer and medicine woman, as her apprentice. From her, he learned the secrets of plants and potions to use as medical remedies and was instructed in how to see the energy fields (commonly referred to as auras) of patients as a means to diagnose their health problems. She also spoke to him about his lineage. His ancestors were a group of people who had been the carriers of knowledge (hombres de tradición), going back for centuries before the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs.
These prehispanic cultures preserve an historical knowledge through oral tradition and myths that goes back thousands of years. An example is the story of the “five suns” which refers to the astronomical fact that the earth revolves around the central sun of the Milky Way approximately every 25,000 years. Within that ancient story, each of those cycles is called a sun. Each sun is supposed to accompany great changes within the earth, one of them being the fall of Atlantis. This group of people considers themselves to be descendants of the Atlatian culture.
I am a person of corn as our ancient prophecy tells, keeping in mind that corn is the only seed on earth that has the four basic colors of mankind: black, red, yellow and white. The red people have to first unite, according to the prophecy. Also under the same concept, the black, white and yellow peoples have to unite within themselves.
Knowledge of his lineage has been integral to Kuiz’s journey. “The ancient instructions directed us to first unify ourselves – the red people,” he says. “I am a person of corn as our ancient prophecy tells, keeping in mind that corn is the only seed on earth that has the four basic colors of mankind: black, red, yellow and white. The red people have to first unite, according to the prophecy. Also under the same concept, the black, white and yellow peoples have to unite with
For over sixty years, Kuiz has been led by those voices and signals which have taken him through a rigorous spiritual initiation that lasted more than thirteen years. He is the last person to have been anointed as a Teopizque (or priest) within the Mexica tradition. Over the years he has traveled throughout the continent meeting with indigenous groups and their elders to relate to them the myth of the corn. He has been a restless fighter for social justice for indigenous people and the preservation of their culture and customs. He calls himself a spiritual warrior, “because to my Star People, the Aztec People, culture itself was what allowed us to preserve our spiritual ways. We became spiritual warriors and that’s how we survived.”
Amongst these groups he is recognized as a medicine man and an elder. In the many different places he has lived, he is usually referred to as a Brujo, Curandero or Shaman – names that he doesn’t like. If anything, he likes to be called simply Kuiz, which is the name given to the hummingbird in Purepecha, the native language of the Huichol, a group of indigenous peoples who live in parts of the western mountain range of Mexico.
Since his early childhood, his greatest passion and instrument for dealing with what he perceived as the inconsistencies of this world and fulfilling his mission has been painting. “I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I would steal my brothers’ notebooks to draw my world. I would hear voices and see signals that would lead me to that world.”
He began as a graphic designer doing signs and ad campaigns in Guadalajara. Later he worked within the entertainment industry, painting theater and movie sets. He has shown his art in different galleries throughout Mexico, the U.S. and Europe.
His art, like himself, has evolved over the years, yet cultural symbols and themes are a constant in his paintings, as well as the depiction of nature from the perspective of someone that clearly sees and understands it in a much more profound way than most people do. At this later stage of his life, Kuiz has practically retired from his participation in social movements or spiritual work with others and is fully dedicated to doing what he loves most – painting.
I have known Kuiz for almost twenty years, and he has been a teacher, a counselor, and especially a good friend of mine. I visited him in Tepoztlan, Mexico, a town famous internationally for its common sightings of UFO’s. Tradition tells that at some point in the past Quetzalcoatl* was born there.
This interview took place surrounded by canvases of his latest work (over forty new pieces) as the sun began to set behind the distinct mountains that surround this peculiar place. Over a bottle of tequila, we shared conversation about his art, spirituality and the relationship between them.
It is my honor to feature Kuiz in this issue of SuperConsciousness Magazine.
SC: Some years ago I asked you to make a painting of Shiva the Destroyer for me. I remember I gave you a print from a magazine as guideline. Some time later when you gave me the painting, I was impressed not only by the beauty and liveliness in the painting but also by the story of what had happened when you did this work.
You told me that as you were getting ready to paint it, Shiva appeared to you in your dreams, and told you to get new brushes and paint, before you were to make a portrait of him. He later gave you other directions about the painting, and I learned that such occurrences were not unusual for you. Since then I have been very intrigued by the process you go through when you paint and I also marvel at the idea that all these images around us are the depictions of beings and places that you have really experienced. Can you tell me more about that?
KL: Before I go to sleep I tap myself in the middle of the chest. By doing this I activate the butterfly, just like the image of the Coatlicue (Aztec goddess) that has one in the middle of her chest. The butterfly means transformation; when you activate that center in the middle of the chest you can transform into anything. The white butterfly was one of Quetzalcoatl’s favorite transformations as well as the ant, the eagle or corn, all of them earth elements.
I like to observe the sun during the whole day, which reveals to me all the colors of the universe through its different shades. Between light and shade there is another line which opens for you the passage to other dimensions and that is what creates for me the joy of painting.
In our understanding Quetzalcoatl is a degree of acquired knowledge rather than a person/god, as it is widely considered in history books. Within our history there have been nine different beings that have become it. By being in the white butterfly in my dream state I can become anything or go anywhere. It’s the touch of induced dreams. It is there where I see the connections and get the instructions. The next day I follow the instruction. It is from those messages and images that I create most of my art. Over the years I have become very disciplined with the messages I receive. The colors of corn were a very clear message – a message of unification. For me a spiritual order is a mandate.
SC: What do you have to do to see that line?
SC: So the next day you have a clear recollection of your dreams when you start to paint them.
KL: Before I begin to paint I look for my peace. Peace does not exist except for what one creates for himself. I surround myself with the things that make me happy. I like to play music, classical music in particular. Then I immerse myself in the painting; I work on two or three paintings at a time. The colors act like an intoxication for me. It’s like walking in the void, you think of nothing else but that. Next thing I know many hours have passed and sometimes the sun is beginning to break.
I am a hunter of the sun. I like to observe the sun during the whole day, which reveals to me all the colors of the universe through its different shades. Between light and shade there is another line which opens for you the passage to other dimensions and that is what creates for me the joy of painting.
KL: You have to concentrate, half close your eyes and that filament appears.
SC: How do you understand art?
KL: Art is a vehicle of expression, it’s something that moves you. When you create art you are connected; some do it consciously, others don’t. The artist wants to show what he thinks. The history of art shows you where the mind has been; through art one can know the history of mankind. Abstract painting came about as a result from war, when the artists no longer wanted to think about reality.
An artist is a seeker of worlds. One paints the world that one is thinking of. There is no difference between the spiritual and the mental – they are the same thing. I paint with light. The butterflies travel through light. I love light and its transparencies. My paintings are an invitation for the observer to go on that journey of light and shades.
SC: How does your spiritual knowledge or evolution influence your art?
KL: With experience and spiritual practice, artistic work is more directed. There is greater intent in one’s work. Our obligation is to know our destiny as awakened beings. I touch on universal symbols that do not require mathematical formulas. I incorporate my tradition, my culture. To speak about culture is to speak about philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and the beautiful powers that Mother Earth holds. In my art I use sacred geometry. Through the Golden Mean one can direct people’s attention to a particular place in a painting in a harmonious way. The Golden Mean is the principle of the law of the universe. Every angle leads you to a different dimension. My work is to leave a document about the different states of the mind and to invite people to go on that journey. That’s what is left for me. It’s my fight.