One of my most memorable travel experiences happened on a sweaty afternoon in Mexico City when a friend and I spent the day hurriedly soaking up Mexican culture in Parque Chapultepec.
After wandering through the lush, busy city park we spent most of the day in the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia and then raced over to Mexico City’s Museo de Arte Moderno for a whirlwind tour of an Alice Rahon exhibition. At the museum we encountered another of Mexico’s famous female exports (hint: not Salma Hayek): magical realist painter Frida Kahlo.
One of my rather large ‘bucket list’ item was checked off that day: to see original Kahlo and Rahon paintings, in Mexico. Now I can relive my day of cultural tourism at the Museum of Anthropology‘s current exhibition Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico, 1926-2011.
Marvellous Real gives a healthy nod to Mexico’s particularly mind-bending contributions to magical realism, featuring 54 artworks from Mexico. Curated by Dr. Nicola Levell, an anthropologist who specialize in the study of museology and curatorial practice, the exhibition contents were cherry-picked from the prestigious FEMSA Collection in Monterrey, Mexico. “The phrase ‘The Marvellous Real’ was coined in 1949 by Cuban writer and musicologist Alejo Carpentier,” says Dr. Levell. “He used the term to capture a unique aesthetic strangeness – neither beautiful nor ugly – that is ever-present in the arts and everyday life of Latin America. In this exhibition we explore how this aesthetic has manifested through generations of artists living in Mexico, opening a window for viewers to experience the amazing and the improbable, the bizarre and the marvellous.”
The MOA exhibition stitches together sculpture, paintings, photos, installation and video, providing a survey of everything from Frida Kahlo’s oil and collage work Mi vestido cuelga aqui (1933, My Dress Hangs Here), to art carved from everyday objects such as Betsabeé Romero’s Serpiente (2004, Serpent) – a group of four engraved tractor tires.
Besides perusing the fantastical works of the likes of Juan O’Gorman, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, exhibition-goers can also explore the creations of younger generations of Mexican artists like Carlos Amorales, Sandra Cabriada, and Francisco Toledo.
For those looking to roll up their sleeves and experience Mexican culture firsthand, MOA has organized two events in November and December that compliment the exhibit. First up is a Pinata making workshop on November 30 & December 7 and the Posada Navideña on December 14. Check the MOA website for event details.
Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico, 1926-2011 runs now until March 30, 2014.
Do you enjoy Mexican art? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.