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‘Miradas’ Mexican art exhibit offers depth, drama

JOHN BRANDENBURG
For The Oklahoman
Modified: February 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm •  Published: February 15, 2012
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photo - Javier Chavira,
Javier Chavira, "El guerrero" (The Warrior), acrylic and crayon on paper
“Miradas,” the first word of the title of a Mexican art show, means “to look, glance or gaze,” in Spanish, according to a press release.

But the superb “Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art” exhibit is worth far more than a glance, or even a steady gaze, and may require more than one look to fully absorb.

On loan from the Bank of America collection, the show at City Arts Center, 3000 Pershing Blvd., was curated by Cesareo Moreno of the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago with the bank’s staff.

A woman offers apples to young people and others while a man holds open a book in “The Teacher,” a realistic yet deftly stylized lithograph by Diego Rivera, one of “the three giants” of the Mexican mural movement.

More fully represented is the second giant of the mural movement, David Alfaro Siqueiros, with 10 vivid-hued, graphically forceful lithographs from his 1968 Mexican Suite.

Particularly expressive are Siqueiros’ lithographs of a wildly dramatic “Village Dance,” of an apparently bleeding “Jesus,” and of the “Motherly Love” of a woman partly covering her son’s face.

Jose Clemente Orozco is missing, but two out of three mural “giants” isn’t bad, and it is made up for by the work of such masters as Carlos Merida, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Francisco Zuniga and Rufino Tamayo.

Merida depicts the twin brothers of the Mayan origin myth with a light, whimsical, nearly surrealistic touch in 10 lively, gaily colored lithographs from a 1943 series offering his “Impressions of Popol-Vuh.”

Bravo captures the spirit of his subjects in classic black-and-white photos of a robed, long-haired man “In the Temple of the Red Tiger,” and of colorfully clad artist Frida Kahlo, seated by a dark reflecting globe.

Equally evocative are Zuniga’s lithographs of “Soledad lying down,” perhaps dying or only sleeping, and of a crouching figure looking up at three robed, cross-hatched, almost heroic female figures.

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