A vocal political activist and social revolutionary, David Alfaro Siqueiros leveraged his art as a vehicle of social change. He favored printmaking for its ease of reproduction and accessibility, and Paisaje Explosivo is exemplary of his late-career lithographs. The print belongs to the Mountain Suite portfolio, whose subjects encompassed jewel-toned mountain landscapes, a self-portrait, a mutilated Christ, and mothers and children. The most abstract work in the series, Paisaje Explosivo depicts pure action, a brash violence conveyed through expressive stroke work and dramatic colors—red, yellow, white, grey—that capture the shock of an explosion. This convulsive feeling is reinforced by the complex placement of color, the layering of value and line, and the use of sinuous strokes to describe billowing clouds of smoke. Made at the time of Mexico’s “Dirty War,” which lasted from the late 1960s through 1970s, the image portrays both the beauty and the horrors of revolution, reflecting on the humanist stakes of conflict in a spectacular, expressionist style.
Text credit: Produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and by Zaria Stebbins