Visual Arts
Tres Mujeres by Carlos Mérida.
Tres Mujeres by Carlos Mérida.

Mexican Movements at Casa de Arte

by / Sep. 28, 2016 12am EST

Works of three important artists of the Mexican socio-political artistic revolutionary tradition are currently on show at Casa de Arte. Two paintings by Carlos Mérida, a lithograph by Raúl Anguiano, and another by Jesús Escobedo. 

Mérida, born in Guatemala, worked with Diego Rivera on Rivera’s murals in Mexico City, and along with Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Siqueiros founded the Sindicato de Obreros Técnicos Pintores y Escultores (Union of Workers, Technicians, Painters, and Sculptors). But also visited Europe, and was influenced by European modernists—the likes of Picasso, Mondrian, and Miró—as well as by his native country ancient Mayan art. Anguiano was a muralist and one of the founders of the Taller de Gráfica Popular (People’s Graphic Workshop), an artists’ collective dedicated to using art to advance revolutionary social causes, and a member of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists). Escobedo was also a member of the Taller and the Liga, and specialized in drawing and engraving, and created posters against fascism. 

The Escobedo lithograph depicts a wedding couple sitting for a painting portrait by an artist working assiduously no doubt at his easel, foregound, while in the background, on a lake or stream behind the blissful couple, an amicable as possible prelude to amorous encounter between a duck and a swan. An allegory of marriage as agreeable amalgam of likes and differences?

The Anguiano lithograph is in a more traditional socialist/realist vein, but not overtly political in this instance. More simply about hard work and work product. Depicting a lumber construction framework between two large rock outcrops, and partial view of the construction worker, half hidden behind an array of two-by-fours. 

 The Mérida works are non-narrative depictions of two women in one instance, three in the other. Full-length portraits, modernist and Mayan slightly abstract more than realistic. 

To provide a further sense of the art of the three artists, also included are some computer reproduction prints of major museum collection examples of their works, plus paint on canvas reinterpretations of the same works by Casa de Arte artist-proprietors Rick Williams and Mara Odette. By Escobedo, El Revolucionario, a woodcut portrait of a revolutionary soldier. By Anguiano, La Espina, showing a peasant field worker—so working barefoot—digging a spine out of his foot with a field knife. And two paintings by Mérida, one of a woman gathering flowers—or possibly edibles, fruits or vegetables—amid a decorative surround of flowers, and one of an elaborately costumed participant in “Las Fiestas de Chinelos,” roughly equivalent to Mardi Gras, but with a strong anti-Spanish colonialists satirical flavor. Costumes—representing Spanish—include a full mask invariably with stiff upturned beard. Literally stuck-up. 

The three Mexican artists exhibit continues through October 7.

Casa de Arte / 141 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo
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