CDMX Show Spotlights Mexican Contemporary Artists

By Emet Ezell

At once an array of softness and vibrancy, the recent CDMX Group Art Show brought its viewers into a world beyond time. The various paintings, sculptures, murals, and installations arrived downtown at the Volcom Garden in Austin, Texas for the first weekend of April, on its way to NYC. Curated by Varenka Ruiz, the collection included works by twelve internationally acclaimed Mexican artists. Many of the artists are known for their elaborate street art , and the CDMX group brings a flash of the creativity and talent growing in and out of Mexico. Collectively, their artwork re-imagines, complicates, and evokes the feminine realm through dynamic displays of color and concept.

For example, Yanin Ruibal’s female portraits Mariela and Erika expand like nesting dolls, revealing a fierce cat or contemplative owl beneath the skin. As the mask-like faces hang loose and detached in the colorful backdrop, Ruibal’s images invite the viewer to consider what remains hidden inside. The tension between the human and the animal spills out from within the frame of the female faces, at once both jarring and soothing. Despite their placid expressions, the figures in Ruibal’s portraits expose hidden inner realities through carefully curated animal figures - their eyes of pain, anger, watchfulness, or intensity, following the gaze of the figure. It is difficult to discern which face to trust: that of the raging cat, or that of the rosy-cheeked figure. By drawing the animal beneath, Ruibal is able to articulate with precision and delicacy, the layers of masked suppression that divide the human from the animal, the natural from the imagined. Her portraits remind us that, “what’s inside always spills out.

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In a similar manner, flowers and leaves pour out from within the split feminine faces of Paola Delfín’s paintings like water. With downcast eyes, Delfín’s gray-scale figures offer an enriching contrast to the bold colors emerging from many of the surrounding artworks. The tangle of leaves and hair, flowers and neck, gushes outward and toward the viewer. What is within the figure, and what is outside? Is the splitness of the face revealing a hidden realm or merely separating from itself? Fusca, too, opens the realm of division in her painting Black Sun. A lithe, gray horse seems to gallop across a backdrop of black, streaks of gold adding movement to the picture. Delfin’s paintings continue to offer reflections upon the feminine, the split openings and divided faces in her profoundly tender paintings evoking a tender violence of feminine subjectivity.

Many of the featured works dance with themes of feminine splitness and a multiplicity of faces. The young girl in Monica Loya’s Artificial Nature seems to move energetically back and forth, shaking her neon head between multiple angles and six inquisitive eyes. Time and color prance between the figure, leaving the viewer dizzy. The bright neon swirls through the figure’s hair, sliding lips, and seemingly blinking eyes to destabilize the center of the painting. This heightens the sense of felt confrontation and confusion, illuminating a glow and flourishing in the midst of instability.

In contrast, the shifting shapes of Varenka Ruiz’s Temple present an entirely different experience. Bold in its color and geometry, the shapes float out from the linen canvas, creating a vibrancy of space silhouetted by black and pink. Her painting, which in some moments mirrors a mountain range, and in others, a cubist rendition of a flower, causes a distrust in perception. Are the shapes receding or emerging? What is natural, what is created, and what is the difference? Can we trust our eyes? Exploring these themes and more, Varenka’s brilliant curation brings together a series of vivid artworks that continually evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity.

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The show also featured large murals and experiential installations. Artist Minerva Ayón’s You’ll Keep the Postcard, I’ll Keep the Place was a cascade of sequins, flowers, swirling tigers, skulls, and other radiant creatures. Ayón’s installation is aggressively playful in its wild color and embroidered brilliance. As its panels hung from the ceiling, Ayon’s piece re-imagined the power that the traditionally feminine practice of sewing has in a space, opening new experiences through textile encounters. Placed alongside murals by Jorge Tellaeche, Christian Castañeda , and an installation by Curiot, Ayón’s work fed into an illuminating enchantment of color and intimacy that drew the viewer into the immersion, surrounding them with images of laughing animals, nebulous clouds, and pink snakes. What better way to encounter the power of Mexican art than through large, swelling murals and intimately drawn scenes?

Tracing and expanding the constructs of nature and the feminine, the CDMX group collaboration brings a graceful yet bold array of artwork to the table. Together, they offer a current and unprecedented glimpse into the confrontational worlds that Street Artwork makes possible. Beginning on Thursday, April 26th, the CDMX group art show will transform into an all female show: Visiones Femeninas. On display at The De Kooning Studio in New York, the group will continue to further investigate the boundaries of the feminine, while fostering access and opportunity. The show will end with a free “Art and Digital Artworkshop given by the artists. Visiones Femeninas will be on view through Sunday, April 28, 2019.