Mexican prints arrive with potent colours and fantastic figures
Months before the opening of Mexican Contemporary Prints,Sudhakar Sharma,secretary of the Lalit Kala Akademi,fervently deliberated with the outgoing Mexican Ambassador Rogelio Granguillhome on whether to hold the show at the art gallery still under renovation. It was earlier exhibited at Lucknows Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendra and we did not want Delhiites to miss the works of Mexican artists, said Sharma,a bit anxious at the opening night. However,the response of the artists,students and academicians who filled the gallery where the smell of fresh paint and hot tea mixed languorously in the air proved the timing wasnt so inappropriate.
Curator Beatriz De Vlady has brought graphic works,lithographs and woodcuts of 24 Mexican artists from the latter half of the 20th century. They are from the archives of Kyron,which was founded in Mexico City in 1972 and became the hub of printmaking. Over 50 works have been displayed. There are two big periods in Mexican art history. The 1910 Mexican civil war spawned great muralists such as Diego Rivera,Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros whose works forged nationalism. The artists of the first period were communists with links with Leon Trotsky. In the second period,led by Rufino Tamayo,the artists divorced themselves from politics and focused on humour,colour and intimate subjects. The works also have a touch of magical realism, explains Conrado Tostado,cultural attaché with the Mexican embassy.
From poring over Tamayos fantastic geometrical body forms such as the one in Red Head,a 1975 lithograph,suspended in an unwholesome dark red haze where the head is reduced to a simple circle,to 54-year-old Lucia Mayas delightful lithographs of the much-deified artist Frida Kahlo,the visitors buzzed over the potent colours. A passionate Kahlo devotee,Mayas The Three Fridas (1985),a lithograph illuminated by hand,shows a trio of Kahlos with the typical uni-eyebrow sitting at a table wearing fantastic costume,including a fish skeleton as pendant.
Seventy-year-old artist Alfredo Castanedas cryptic The Secret of the Secret (1984),a lithograph illuminated by hand,shows a monkish bearded man with fearful eyes narrowing towards the adjacent page,where a stern eye peeks through a tear. The book shown in Castanedas work is the Bible. Inspired by the German expressionist movement,he was often the subject of his paintings, says Vlady.
The young artists featured includes Maximino Javier with his delightful lithographs populated by bull-headed men,Minerva Lopez,Mario Martin del Campo,Francisco Toledo and Leonora Carrington. The show travels to Egypt in March.
The exhibition is on till February 12.