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Diego Rivera rides again… on the Metro

15 February 2007

chapultepec.jpgOne of the greatest things about Mexican artists is that they aren’t artistes.  Except for silly Frida Kahlo and a few of the 19th century academics, they’ve always been just folks like the rest of us.  Folks with a gift, to be sure, but from… and of… the people. Supposedly, Siqueiros, Rivera and Orozco argued about the need for the artist to teach the masses.  Orozco bought some cooking pots from a passing ambulante, presented them to his fellow muralists and said, “The artists must learn from the masses.”

Art is not for those who can afford the galleries.  Why shouldn’t some of the best exhibits in Mexico City only cost two pesos?  Ride the Metro.  You never know what you’ll see or find.  Besides the people, I mean.

talisman.jpg There’s the fossilized mammoth at Talismán (it’s advertised… the stop’s glyph is a Mammoth), the mosaics on Linea B (Tepito’s is fun, showing off the bravado of el barrio bravo), the scale model of Tenotichtlan in Zocalo Station (and the publisher’s tunnel between Zocalo and Pino Suarez, with parts of an Aztec temple in the corridor), the science exhibits and the planetarium at La Raza.  The temporary art exhibits are sometimes better than what you’d find ducking in and out of the high falutin’ galleries in Zona Rosa or Coyoacán.  There was a fun one featuring dinasours made of industrial tubing in the rotunda at San Lázaro for a time, and there were several cutting edge displays at Cuarto Caminos — featuring “Missing Person” posters that were good enough to annoy middle-class suburbanites and had to be moved. 

tepito.jpgSo, when I read this, I said… COOOLLL! 

Six Artists take on Mexico’s problems (my translation) 

México.- An intergeneration collective of six artists take on contemporary problems in a series of murals. Entitled “Artist’s Denunciations” the six panels by six different artists deal with rural soil degradation, underfinancing for culture, migration, illegal commerce, extreme poverty and narcotics trafficing.

Work on the project began today, and will continue through the end of the month, as the artists paint the murals in public, eventually covering the central display cases in Zócalo Station (Metro Line 2).

The three artists who started work today were the object of curious stares from passer-bys, as they donned white uniforms to began installing six blank 1.80 meter wide canvases that cover the plate glass windowes, and started to apply their first brushstrokes.

Unaware of what was planned, the public began to watch with appreciation the the serveral techniques and movements of the work in progress. The groups’ coordinator, and one of the painters, Juan Carlos Garcés, said that “Communications media have a duty to inform the public of serious problems in the country.”

He added, “ Too many artists have lost the view that painting is a resource which also serve to tell the people not to be indifferent, and which speaks to the present adversity of thousands of Mexicans.

Antonio Cruz said, “Today’s painters do landscapes. They’ve forgetten they are heirs to the great muralists of the 50s, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, that made “portraits” of the cournty’s reality.”

For this project, the people will be able to meet with the artists, criticize the work, and exchange ideas. According to project coordinator Juan Carlos Garcés, the work is an graphic interpretation by the two generations, uniting in artistic creativitity to bring national problems into public consciousness.

Little by little, with different painters using different techniques, three of the six canvases started to take on the form, texture and composition of their chosen theme.

Isaac Holoschutz, one of the first three artists, immediately took up his brush and began drawing green, white, black and yellow human figures, part of his work on narcotics trafficing.

Carlos Estevan García, who has taken on the theme of Extreme Poverty, will use starkly outlined figures to show the present situation in the country.

Juan Carlos Garcés called on artists to join in the project, and use painting to come to know the nation’s problems.

Besides Garcés, 50, the collective includes Antonio Cruz, 52, Cristóbal Flores, 21, Bernardo Franco, 19, Carlos Estevan García, 25, and Isaac Holoschutz, 43.

Cruz’s piece, “El Campo” (“The Field”) expresses the effects of 70 years of “letting erosion turn the earth to sterile, useless dust, with harvests monopolized before planting.” Cruz said that the character and composition of the colors were meant to further his artistic ends.

Cristóbal Flores Carmona’s “El Presupuesto Bajo para la Cultura” (“The low cultural budget”) is in a lyrical style, expressing the thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams, fantasies and hopes for a time when there is a whole society. Flores’ work turns on emotion, and a strong sense of perspective and composition.

Bernardo Franco, working in a frankly fantastical mode, with stylized and imaginary figures is creating a retrospective on migration. Juan Carlos Garcés is using a combination of resins and other materials to give volume to “El Comercio Informal”.

The project is being funded by the Board of Directors of the Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics (Junta Directiva Nacional de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística) in collaboration with the Collective Transit System( Sistema de Transporte Colectivo (Metro)).



“University Station” ©2001, Edward Dawson

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