Modern Mexico: Avant-garde and Revolution at the MALBA...


06/11/17 - In an exhibition with 170 works belonging to more than 60 Mexican artists, the star is still Frida Kahlo (Mexico, 1907 – 1954). The same happened when the MALBA opened its doors 16 years ago and the spotlight was on "Autorretrato con chango y loro". Today, in this exhibition displaying works that were part of the breakdown encouraged by José Vasconcelos after the Mexican Revolution in 1910, Frida is once again the mandatory selfie. Her self-portrait with her monkeyFulang Chang, belongs to the late 30s. Two years later, under the influence of André Breton, she adds a mirror. Let's not forget that Breton was the author of the "Surrealist Manifest" in 1924, which gave birth to a movement that encouraged free thinking and had a strong development in Latin America.
Fulang Chang and I, by Frida Kahlo (1937) - Mirror added in 1939
Technique: oil on fiber board with painted glass frame and mirror with painted glass frame.
"Fulang Chang and I", which has been borrowed from the MoMA in New York, is exhibited in the room dedicated to the Experiences with Surrealism, together with a group of pieces related to religion such as "Ícono" by Remedios Varo (Spain, 1908 – Mexico, 1963), some kind of fantasy shrine.
Icono, by Remedios Varo (1945)
Technique: oil, mother-of-pearl and gold leaf inlays on wooden triptych / Measures: 60 x 39.3 x 5.5 cm
That's also the resting place for the Malinche in an oil painting by Antonio Ruiz (Mexico, 1892 – 1964), known as El Corcito, an artist with quite some presence throughout the exhibition. In this room he shines with "El sueño de la Malinche", a very small piece, like those popular paintings that are hanged in Catholic Mexican churches as an offering after someone has been healed. 
El Corcito picks up that spontaneous tradition, trying to redeem the Malinche, painting over her stretched out body the city of Mexico. As Hernán Cortés' lover, she promoted the creation of the city and was the victim of nasty rumors for having fallen for the white conquistador.
El sueño de la Malinche, by Antonio Ruiz “El Corcito” (1939)
Technique: oil on wood / Measures: 30 x 40 cm
The third floor of the museum houses the other 3 thematic blocks dedicated to Cosmopolitan Modernity, to Popular Culture and to the Achievements and failures of the Revolution. 

Retrato de Adolfo Best Maugard, by Diego Rivera (1913)
Technique: oil on canvas / Measures: 227 x 194 cm
Mineros, by Antonio Ruiz “El Corcito” (1941)
Technique: oil on canvas
Autorretrato (el coronelazo), by David Alfaro Siqueiros
Measures: 91.5 x 121.6 cm
A special mention to the small and intense Catrina by José Guadalupe Posada because death is very important in Mexican culture. This artist, admired by Diego Rivera, was a hinge between the 19th and the 20th century and is part of Mexico's soul.
La calavera catrina, by José Guadalupe Posada (1912)
Technique: zyncography / Measures: 23 x 31 cm
The exhibition has received the curatorship and artworks of the Museo Munal of Mexico and marks the entrance to the permanent collection of Diego Rivera's "El Baile de Tehuantepec", the artwork Eduardo Costantini bought last year for 15,7 million dollars. 
The montage, however, is a bit heavy with so many artworks. Maybe a little less wouldn't have affected the curatorship.

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