If you’re an abstract art lover and you’re going to be in Guadalajara in the next couple of months, you might want to take advantage of two art exhibits that opened this month that are offering the public a rare opportunity to view the best work of aspiring artists in Mexico who express themselves through this medium. One is a collection of several abstract artists from all over Mexico, while the other is by a single artist.
One of the exhibits, “Primer Encuentro de Arte Abstract de Pequeño Formato” (The First Gathering of Small-Format Abstract Art), is at the Center for the Study and Diffusion of Non-Figurative Art (CIANF) in Pinar de la Venta, Jalisco. The show is the brainchild of the CIANF’s owners, José de Jesús “Pepe” Olivares and Rosalia Zepeda.
“We challenged abstract artists in Jalisco and all over Mexico to send us an example of their best work, but confined to within a medium measuring 30 centimeters by 30 centimeters: a footprint of their art, you could call it,” Olivares said.
“The response has been wonderful,” Zepeda said. “All the works you see here were created especially for this exhibit. We have 70 ‘footprints’ on display, offering the public a unique opportunity to peruse today’s abstract art scene in Mexico within the confines of three small rooms.”
I was impressed at how enticing the schema was. I could not take three steps without some obra (artwork) grabbing my attention, then obliging me to take a closer look and finally seducing me.
While most of the works were acrylics on canvas, there were also watercolors, pourings, collages and some outstanding three-dimensional pieces, along with a delightful stained-glass window — only 30 by 30 centimeters, of course.
The work X-1 by Dadu Magaaña, a graphic designer who lives in Guadalajara, was principally made using hot tar splattered on the canvas. It appears that the artist also employed layers of tar diluted with solvent.
Luz II by María del Consuelo Bucio is from the artist’s collection Luz de la Vida, (The Light of Life).
“This painting,” Pepe Olivera explained,”… is an example of a pouring combined with acrylic painting. The canvas was laid down flat, and a mixture of paint, oil and water was poured on it. Later, after it dried, the artist used black acrylic paint as a kind of mask covering everything but the areas she wanted to be visible.”
CIANF, by the way, is more than an art gallery. It’s also an art school for children and adults, a library and a venue for art-related presentations and discussions. Located in the community of Pinar de La Venta, it’s about eight kilometers west of Guadalajara.
This collection of paintings will be on display throughout August, September and October.
The Center is located at 98 Paseo de las Primaveras, in Pinar de la Venta, Jalisco. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Interested parties should call 333-616-6242 in advance of their visit.
To reach the center, ask Google Maps to take you to CIANF, Pinar de la Venta, Jalisco. In front of the gallery’s gate, you will see a telephone pole clearly marked with a big red number nine.
This is an important landmark because house numbers on this street are hopelessly jumbled.
The other exhibit, “De Cuando la Tierra era Plana y los Diamantes Brillan” (From When the Earth was Flat and Diamonds Sparkle),” is on display atHospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara.
The Hospicio Cabañas, a hospital founded in 1791 in Guadalajara and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is exhibiting this collection of abstract works by Anibal Delgado, a native of Guadalajara who also spent many years living in Mexico City.
The exhibit features more than 50 pieces of his abstract art.
Delgado’s work has appeared in more than 60 shows in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, the United States and, of course, in many parts of Mexico. In 2007, he received the a scholarship from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, founded by abstract expressionist artist Lee Krasner.
Delgado told me that he grew up interested in sports, not art or culture. “But then, one day, when I was in my 20s, I was handed a few books of abstract art by some friends studying architecture,” he said. “I took one look at them and I was hooked. They knocked me off my feet!
“I guess what I want to say is that I was completely beguiled by abstract art. And all this happened 50 years ago. Yes, it was around 1970 when I discovered that it was possible to become a painter and then starve to death because of it.”
Delgado has experimented with painting on different surfaces, even mattresses, and most of his works on display at Hospicio Cabañas are painted on ordinary plywood. “For me, art is fun,” he said.
In an attempt to understand and appreciate Delgado’s work, I asked Olivares, who is also an abstract art teacher, to comment on three of Delgado’s paintings now on display.
His responses follow:
Regarding Vertical Orange: “This is painted on a sheet of plywood,” he said. “Here we have red and yellow along with orange, which is what you get if you mix the first two colors. So there is color harmony here.”
“Then we have a patch of white and a patch of black,” he continued. “I feel that these give the chispa (spark) to this work and act as a catalyst. He’s playing with very few elements here, but I feel he is placing them with great care. It wouldn’t work if these two spots weren’t located where they are, and the orange section wouldn’t work if you moved it up higher. All the parts are in just the right places.”
Aníbal’s work is really original and doesn’t follow any tradition, said Olivares.
“Basically, he is having fun. He plays with colors, often bright primary colors like those you see in a country fiesta. Aníbal says, ‘No me importa si es arte abstracta; a mi lo que quiero es disfrutar la fiesta’ [I don’t care whether this is abstract art or not, all I want is to enjoy the fiesta]. This helps you understand Aníbal’s work.
“It’s sort of saying, ‘We have only two options in life: disfrutarla o sufrir: Enjoy it or suffer.’”
Of Dancing Colors, he said, “The colors are dancing across this piece of plywood where the texture shows through. This painting traps you. A poet might write something very beautiful about it.”
Regarding the piece Maybe a Light Bulb, he had questions:
“What is this?” he asked, “a light bulb? A globe? A fishbowl with a cover? Whatever it is, I like it. It grabs me.”
Delgado’s works will be on display at at the museum until November 28.
To get there, ask Google Maps to take you to Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara.
The official address is C. Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jalisco.
But the truth is, you will probably have the best results by getting yourself to Guadalajara and then using what I call the “Mexnet” method.
In other words, just keep asking people, “Dónde está el Hospicio Cabañas?”
It almost always works!
The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, for 31 years and is the author of A Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones and Surrounding Area and co-author of Outdoors in Western Mexico. More of his writing can be found on his website.