Jose Cuervo, a world leader in the vast realm of tequila production, did the world a grand favor by introducing the family reserves of their globally renowned spirits to the wider marketplace. Annually, Reserva De La Familia, Jose Cuervo’s high-end tequila offering, features the work of an artist by way of a collectible box set, enlisting Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija for the 2022 release of the line.
Spirit.Ed’s D.L. Chandler had the honor of traveling to Mexico to experience Reserva De La Familia, learning the history of tequila in the country, how the agave plant is harvested that forms the base of the spirit, plus much more. The trip began in Guadalajara, complete with food pairings with the Platino, Reposado, and Extra Añejo styles of the Reserva De La Familia collection during a dinner at Restaurante Alcalde, an award-winning establishment ranked #68 in 2021 Worlds Best Restaurants List and #14 across Latin America.
Among the journey’s many highlights, traveling among the Mexican roadways and hillsides to the town of Tequila stands out. A visit to the La Rojeña distillery, where Jose Cuervo is made, is also a must for fans of tequila. Our time spent at the distillery and witnessing the efforts that go into producing the spirits is an artform itself. Later in the day’s visit, a lavish gathering on the grounds of La Rojeña revealed Lebrijta’s rendition of the collection’s cover, evidently influenced by the agave plant. While Lebrija was far too swamped to speak with the press at the gathering, he was gracious enough to offer Spirit.Ed some insight into his life’s work and the experience of working with Jose Cuervo via the following interview.
CASSIUS: Your art is the mere definition of “multi-media” since you engage in several styles of expression. Which of the mediums do you work in the most and why?
Gonzalo Lebrija: I started making art with photo mechanic mediums such as photography, film, and video, and then I started working with performance, installation, sculpture, and finally with painting. I must say that my priority as an artist has always been language, no matter the medium. Whenever I engage in a new project, I never think of it in terms of the medium rather than language and concepts; the use of the medium comes later naturally. With my paintings, the process changes as it requires a different dynamic, a sword of meditation between light and space.
C: Although you were born in Mexico City, your work encompasses the vast landscape of Western Mexico. Where do you most draw inspiration from when creating?
GL: Indeed I was born in Mexico City but moved to Guadalajara at a very young age. Ever since, I’ve always been very interested in landscapes, not only from a contemplation point of view but also through physical interaction and displacement such as walking, horseback riding, biking, and sailing. I guess I spend a lot of time interacting with nature, hence the importance of my bond with nature. In a way, nature is also my studio.
C: Jose Cuervo commissioned you to design its 2022 Reserva De La Familia design. What was your vision for the design?
GL: The “paisaje agavero” or agave landscapes in English has always been very present in my life, I have walked past them so many times in different hours of day and night, it has always caught my attention how the light changes majestically throughout and the endless pallet of colors that composes kilometers of agave plantations: the accidental landscape, the contrast between the blue agave plants, the red soil, and the sky. It is like a big painting changing dramatically all the time.
When I was invited to design the new box for Reserva de la Familia, I knew that I had to work with those materials. I used the same technique that I use in my glazing paintings (veladuras) using a very specific pallet of colors for each box that was carefully chosen from the same landscape at a different time of the day, to finally represent — in an abstract way — the atmosphere of light and space through silkscreen glazings printed in the cage.
C: When people think of Mexico, they typically focus on tequila and music but the visual arts enjoy prominence in the nation as well. What would it take for Mexico to be seen for its creative contributions?
GL: I think tequila, Mexican music, and art are a very important part of our souls. Art is becoming more visible these days, our artistic communities have been growing impressively in the last few years. I believe it is a common effort that makes it possible thanks to the generous support of projects like Reserva de la Familia and Jose Cuervo.
C: Lastly, if you’ve sampled the Reserva De La Familia line from Jose Cuervo, which of the expressions are your favorite?
GL: My favorite is Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Platino
To learn more about Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia, including how to purchase the product, please visit this page.
Photo: Jose Cuervo