Wednesday, June 19, 2024

In Mexico City, captivating contemporary art is on every corner

Previous installments of Mexico News Daily’s mini-series on art in Mexico City have examined muralism and modernism in the nation’s capital. But there’s more: there is also captivating, inquisitive and confounding contemporary art on every corner.

First and foremost if you are an art aficionado who wants a look at the newest and best work from Mexico and beyond, the yearly pilgrimage to ZonaMaco is a must.

An international art fair that began in 2002, ZonaMaco is known as Latin America’s best and features artists known and unknown, big and small, near and far. It’s the luxury of sinking into some delectable art without all the hoighty-toightyness of the international art scene. Locals mingle with tourists, novices with experts.

Galleries all over the city participate in exhibits, conferences and cultural events during the fair’s two event times – the main fair in February and a supplementary one in September. In addition to the main contemporary art exhibits, there is also ZonaMaco Diseño, ZonaMaco Salón and ZonaMaco Foto, focused on design, antiques and photography. See the full schedule for 2020 on their website and book your tickets now – the city fills up quickly for this annual art smorgasbord.

If those dates won’t work or big art fairs are not your thing, we get it, but good contemporary art can be had at any time of the year in Mexico City if you know where to look.

Modern art at Kurimanzutto.
Modern art at Kurimanzutto.

You might want to try starting at Tamayo Contemporary Art, founded by famous muralist and art collector Rufino Tamayo and his wife. While the museum’s permanent collection is a hodgepodge of various styles and eras, they run a dozen or more contemporary exhibits throughout the year that include everything from fluorescent light displays to ethnographical video to collage.

For some excellent photography exhibits, make the hike out to the Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos photo museum, whose stark, warehouse-like exhibition halls only serve to make the over-sized images pop and dazzle. A little more neighborly, the tiny Museo Experimental El Eco is located in Colonia San Rafael and despite its lesser fame, puts up truly great exhibits, each with printouts of information about the artist and art on display.

But maybe you aren’t just browsing but ready to buy: galleries galore await your critical eye and open wallet. Neighborhoods Roma and Condesa have become the gallery epicenter in the past few years and they are a great place to start, especially if you want to create your own gallery walking tour among the charming, tree-lined streets of these two beautiful barrios.

Heavy hitters include OMR and Proyectos Monclova, or you can visit Arroniz Arte Contemporanea, FIFI project, House of Gaga, MAIA Contemporary, Le Laboratoire and Licenciado. The most well-known and highly regarded gallery in the city is probably Kurimanzutto in the San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood, and while you’re up that way you can stop at the RGR+ART and Parque Galería (and Luis Barragan’s House and Studio).

A few final favorites of mine include the Galería Hilario Galguera and Taller Lu’um in San Rafael. Taller Lu’um is particularly interesting as a fusion of contemporary designers working with traditional Mexican artisans to incorporate ancient techniques into modern designs. Proceeds help these artisans keep their traditions alive.

Keep in mind that most of these galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays and some require a previous appointment so always call ahead or check their website for info.

While great art abounds in many corners of Mexico, you won’t find the density and variety anywhere else that you will in the country’s capital. Paris, London and New York are fine, but great and exciting art can be had right here in Mexico City — with the added bonus of tacos afterwards.

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