“Miradas,” the first word of the title of a Mexican art show, means “to look, glance or gaze,” in Spanish, according to a news release. But the superb “Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art” exhibit, is worth far more than a glance.
On loan from the Bank of America collection, the show at the City Arts Center was curated by Cesareo Moreno of the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago with the bank's staff.
A woman offers apples to people 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 expressive “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.
Tamayo's starkly simplified, earth-toned 1980 etching of a man's “Head with a Hat” is totem-like, while his lithograph of a dog, with a lurid open mouth, baying at the moon, has plenty of playful pizazz.
Cryptic and hard-hitting is “The Prisoner,” a tempera-charcoal drawing by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, of a captive in a sombrero, looking out helplessly from a claustrophobic forest of armed guards.
Masterful, too, is a rich, green-hued lithograph by Hungarian-Mexican artist Gunther Gerzso which translates the image of “a woman of the jungle” into flat, abstract shapes.
Among outstanding works by later artists are a stylized yet forceful acrylic-crayon profile of “The Warrior,” by Javier Chavira, and an abstract lithograph by Gustavo Ramos Rivera reminiscent of Arshile Gorky.
Three other excellent works are contributed by Graciela Iturbide, Miguel Castro Lenero and Alejandro Colunga.
A woman seems part of the oakum she is selling in Iturbide's black-and-white photograph, and the golden coil of a snail emerges from a scumbled blue “mountain” in Lenero's abstract oil painting.
Wildly animated and macabre is Colunga's 1980 lithograph of a masked, broadly gesturing, nearly monstrous “Boy with Tricycle.”
The exhibit shouldn't be missed during its run through May 4.
— John Brandenburg
‘Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern
and Contemporary Mexican Art'