The long rectangular painting includes African Americans in the water, ships exploding, a monster with a briefcase, a truck with Cuban immigrants and a host of other characters that Mexican painter Enrique Chagoya tried to explain Saturday at Galería de la Raza.

“The painting tackles various issues, predominantly immigration,” said the 57-year-old painter, who first studied economics at the Autonomous University of Mexico City and now teaches art at Stanford University.

His exposition YTREBIL (liberty spelled backwards) closed Saturday after an eight-week showing.

The few dozen prints — a medium the artist prefers because prints are more affordable — in the show take a satirical look at issues such as immigration and the right-wing movement.

Chagoya said he uses art in a humorous and satirical way to express discontent with political issues.

“It’s incredibly witty and playful, as well as thought-provoking,” said local resident Jessica Arnett.

In his talk on Saturday, attended by more than 50 people, Chagoya sought to explain his work.

One of the prints shows several images, including a truck floating on the ocean. It’s a reference to Cuban immigrants who customize their vehicles to cross the ocean, Chagoya said.

“This country needs immigrants, even China needs immigrants.”

The print also details the problems immigrants face here. A monster wearing a suit illustrates the bureaucratic nightmares they face, Chagoya said.

Another prominent issue in Chagoya’s work is the political right wing. In one of the prints, former president Bush holds Condoleezza Rice on his lap. She’s portrayed as a puppet in reference to the puppetry of politics, he said.

Local artist Diana Krevsty said that the art “makes people laugh in order to open your eyes.”

“The exhibit is a way to identify cultures, beliefs and to express complaints,” she added

When asked about the goal of his art, Chagoya insisted that he had no purpose. “When you have a purpose, you will just get frustrated. Art cannot change anything; it would be pretentious to think so.”

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Octavio Lopez Raygoza

Octavio Lopez Raygoza hails from Los Angeles. Lured by the nightlife, local eateries, and famous chilaquiles, Raygoza enjoys reporting in the Mission District. Although he settled in downtown San Francisco, he spends most of his time in the Mission.

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  1. very interesting, caught my attention from the very first lines. I learned a bit about art, politics and immigration. Great article

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