This past week, hundreds of people found themselves wrapped around a building and waiting to enter the doors of what would be a celebration and representation of Mexico and its history.
A hundred and seventy different pieces coat the walls of MALBA’s interior by more than 60 artists like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Leonora Carrington.
In honor of keeping the spirit alive for Dia de Los Muertos, the Malba inaugurated their new México Moderno Vanguardia y Revolución exhibit. The exhibit illustrates Mexico’s development of modern aesthetics that took place during the first half of the 20th century. Although unknown at the time, the Revolution became the inspiration to ignite the fire within muralism and the project of building the modern nation.
“While muralism is a prime example in this period, and the exhibition includes some transportable specimens of monumental painting, we were also looking to examine the many mechanisms of interrelationship and synergy obtained among the various cultural expressions of the era. For this reason, we’re displaying what was newly being propounded in literature, music, film and culture in general, offerings which are vital for understanding in a broad context the visual arts of the period,” says curator Victoria Giraudo.
While the main feature of the exhibit is to portray and embrace the modernism present in Mexican art history, the women shown have their own story to tell.
As we fast-forward through history, it’s evident how women have gained more value and acceptance in the modern day. For this reason, the focus was also on the women artists who were once marginalized from the canonical narrative and now repositioned as authentic protagonists in the cultural scene.
To portray the time and shift of the culture, the Malba has four sections to exemplify the evolution: cosmopolitan modernity, social revolution, popular culture, and surreal experience.
The cosmopolitan modernity is set at the beginning of the 20th century where the rebirth of the arts started. This section showcases the most active, anti-institutional, and plural movements known as “avant-grade updating.”
Next is the Social revolution. This section is known as the Revolution of 1910-17 and the modern life of Mexico. Upon entering, the work of Francisco Groitia, one of the forerunners of modernism, who experienced the violence of the Revolution shows it through sketches and photographs of murals. There is also the work of artists who portrayed the political-social problems during that time.
Next is popular culture, set in the early 1920s with the intention of promoting and developing artistic education. The room pulls inspiration from popular elements, such as the indigenous and ‘authentic’ Mexican. The work also shows the religious syncretism, a mix of pagan and Catholic rituals with native roots in popular festivities like carnivals; in worship of the dead, dances, folklore, masks, and the dress typical of different peoples as Mexican symbol; in earthly embodiments of the soul of ancestors; and in the “spirit” of the nation in relation to its cultural history.
Finally, there’s the surreal experience, which is a literacy and plastic movement to revolutionize human experience by rejecting rational visions in the pursuit of authenticity and expression of the unconscious. In Mexico, surrealism was different than the way it was found in other countries, since an authentic and unbridled — indeed, almost savage — form of expression had existed there since ancient times.
The exhibit will be open until Feb 19, Monday to Thursday 12 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Wednesday 12 a.m. to 9 p.m.