Ahtzic Silis is a French – Salvadorian contemporary artist and designer. His multidisciplinary approach mixes ironwork, ceramics and photography to create sculpture, furniture and both graphic and interior design.


External links

Décoration _ Ahtzic Silis
Photographie _ Ahtzic Silis
Sculpture _ Ahtzic Silis
Happy Birthday Alice!! _ Collective exhibition by Danielle Stéphane & Ahtzic Silis

Flores y Espinas _ catalogue
Flores y Espinas _ web site

De Rodillas, el legado sin Gloria _ Call for artists: civil war in El Salvador, from a generational viewpoint.


His work

Ahtzic Silis belongs to a disillusioned generation, that of the children of war. He is the son of Salvador Silis, a founding member of the National Resistance (RN), the political arm of one of the 5 Marxist guerrillas behind the civil war in El Salvador in the early 1970s. Born in El Salvador on the 20th November 1972 he has known the horrors of a civil war that destroyed his country as well as the fragile peace that followed.

Through Art he has found the means of discovering himself, whilst engaging in a struggle: that of Art as a way of life. For Ahtzic, being an artist is a risky endeavour for which you must be ready to accept the consequences: ‘It is not enough to feel you are an artist, you have to be ready to suffer, to recognize your fears and your limits, to be able to subject yourself to worries, passions and daily obsessions. And even when you are able to transform all of these feelings into a work of Art, you are far from being considered an artist; quite the opposite, that is where the adventure begins...’ Ahtzic grew up in a small country, ravaged by violence and absence, where there was little room for budding young artists. At that time he resented the lack of initiative of the El Salvadorian artists and decided to travel, to go in search of other populations, as well as other techniques. He began his journey in Central America, Mexico, then in Turkey and now France, where he has been living for several years.

Ahtzic’s journey continues in Lyon, where he has been based since 2001. ‘France, as an important step in my journey, has allowed me to evolve in my work, despite the fact that Europe only respects contemporary art when it answers to strictly intellectual parameters. Regardless of the beauty and originality of my creations, their meaning can neither be understood nor recognized, as Mayan culture and its references have been reduced to rigid historical facts. Hence the difficulty I’ve encountered in finding places to exhibit my creations, which are far from the French standards. Highly elitist, contemporary art has been established as the ‘trend par excellence’, destined for a minority, a minority who decide the future of this country’s culture. It’s astounding to see that even Art has been institutionalized in order to be controlled.’

To create allows him to look for answers to the questions he poses himself. He doesn’t enjoy trying to explain the sense behind his works; he creates in order to express what he does not, cannot and will not say. It is up to the individual to read between the lines, to find his own path, his own answers in the curves of wrought iron, in the Mayan glyphs from which Ahtzic draws inspiration. ‘As a artist, my work is to find a modern reinterpretation of all the passion contained in the myths of the sacred text Popol Vuh. It is the magic of this culture, both legendary and marvellous, which allows my hands to create. This reinterpretation extends the vision of this culture and responds to the need to forge bonds, to find the missing links between who they were, who we are and who we claim to be, links which allow Latin American cultures to be reflected in a common heritage, which offer the possibility of enhancing a potential, an energy which only Latin America is able to develop.’

Coupled with this artistic research comes an inner desire to change the world, the desire for art to be a tool which enables us to find solutions to the social problems which define our world, by making us protagonists in a transformation which allows us to cross the internal boundaries that we have created, and thus invent, produce and maintain solid, and more importantly, unique cultural richness.

‘Even if I use other techniques, steel is one of my main forms of expression. In relation to other materials, the Mayans did not overly develop their metalwork, so the fact that I work with it means that I am a new link in the chain of continuity. Without this continuity, we can’t talk about transformation. By transposing the designs of this mythology into a new material – iron – I’m able to give them a new dimension, thanks to the interaction between the lines and transparencies. I’ve therefore been able to invent my own graphic vocabulary which permits me to create both functional objects and sculptures.’

From the heart of this graphic language Ahtzic Silis draws all the wisdom necessary to probe the invisibility of our mass, which allows him to understand his illusions, thus freeing the ideas and shapes that he translates into each of his creations. And from there, the interpretation of the world and the symbols that he hears communicated...

Iron may appear cold and rigid, yet once crafted by Ahtzic Silis, it takes form and becomes air, flames, lace and volutes. The wrought-iron sculptor gives it a life, a soul. It becomes alive, warmed by the rust that lends it a new colour and texture, until the artist decides what it is. In this way, each work of art has its own life, beyond that which we might imagine of it. It is enough to allow its silence to soothe you.


Text by Pascale Amey & Ahtzic Silis
Translation: Joanna Challacombe & Alexandra MacDonald • merci beaucoup
, un beso eterno


Awards and competitions

July 2006 ‘Rompiendo Fronteras’ Award, Latin American Cultural Space, Washington DC
January 2005 ‘El Salvador Oggi’ Award
Accademia Internazionale CITTA DE ROMMA, Italie
December 2002 1st Prize winner of the ‘Asi veo El Salvador’ competition, organised by the El Salvadorian Foreign Affairs Minister



- Lyon-Québec Passion, Emma Productions, La Biennale des Lions 2008
- Lyon-Torino Passion, Emma Productions, La Biennale des Lions 2006
- Lyon ou le rêve des lions, Emma Productions, La Biennale des Lions 2004
- Latitud 0°, Latinoamérica en Europa, november 2004, Paris
- Journal des 22èmes Reflets du cinéma iberique et latino-américain, N° Off, march 2006, Villeurbanne, France




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