Mexican artwork bridges tradition

The source of remarkable vitality of contemporary Mexican painting lies in the influence of its traditions.

Even in the most cutting-edge or abstract works, tradition plays a powerful role and remains the underlying foundation from which contemporary tradition springs.

The imaginative use of myth in pre-Hispanic art, sophisticated use of color in indigenous folk art and surreal cultural tradition are seen in new works.

Bond Latin Gallery in San Francisco has put together an extraordinary exhibition of 17 Mexican painters whose work exemplifies these influences. The show is notable because within genres it covers — abstract, figurative, portraiture — there is a wide variety of painting styles.

When European Surrealism founder Andre Bretón attempted to bring Surrealism to Mexico in the 1940s, he found Mexican culture and art to be naturally surrealistic. 

Robert McDonald, Bond Latin Gallery owner, says, “Mexican culture has a natural sense of a bridge that travels back and forth between the known and the unknown, not in a Freudian sense, but in a mythic. As a result, a vibrant imaginativeness and a distinctive color sensibility have come to characterize the best of Mexico’s contemporary tradition.”

Oaxacan painter Alejandro Santiago’s work has a nightmarish intensity. Crude, violent abstract forms mix with splashes of color and strange, dark faces, which seem to appear spontaneously. 

Forms and color erupt from the canvas, which doesn’t look like it has been painted. Santiago’s work suggests a primitive shamanic ritual.

On the other hand, quiet fantasy, staid imagination, unique juxtaposition of elements and a psychological color sensibility characterize Oaxacan painter Rodolfo Morales’ work.

An Adán Paredes abstract wall relief demonstrates, succinctly, how utilizing pre-Hispanic influences in novel ways has prompted unique originality seen in many pieces in the Bond Gallery show.

Works by more established painters who began the contemporary tradition — David Siqueiros, Carlos Mérida and Diego Rivera — hang comfortably with the younger moderns.

 

IF YOU GO

17 Mexican Painters

Where: Bond Latin Gallery, 25 Post St., sixth floor, S.F.
When: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday; closes Dec.15
Admission: Free
Contact: (415) 362-1480; www.bondlatin.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Jazz pianist and composer Jon Jang is an instructor at Community Music Center in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jon Jang composes bittersweet symphonies

Musician-activist’s works are steeped in civil rights history

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

Most Read