Mexico: The Future is Unwritten

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Mexico

In our collective imagination Mexico is an old acquaintance. Who has not dreamed of Cortez the conquistador and Montezuma the Aztec, of the dramatic imperial adventure of Maximilian, of the sacrifice of the French Foreign Legion at Camarón for the iniquitous cause of the Hapsburgs and Napoleon III? Whose heartbeat does not quicken at the thought of revolutionary adventures of Pancho Villa and of Zapata? Who, on the contrary, has not hated Generalissimo Santana for crushing the heroes of Alamo? These are just some fragments of the kaleidoscope of thoughts that make up the backdrop of the great Mexican mural. But Imago Mundi is not anchored in Mexico’s past: it broadens its horizons to take in the present and extend towards a controversial future with the work of more than two hundred artists. The challenge represented by the 10x12 cm rectangular canvas has delivered exciting interpretations, voices of a world suspended between tradition and modernity, between violence and hope, between poverty and development. 

Zazil Barba - Lo bello..., 2014

Beyond the echoes of political and social controversy, all the vitality of contemporary Mexican art emerges from Imago Mundi’s small canvases, not just from their inspiration but also as a result of the wide variety of techniques used. The response of the artists has manifested itself in many different forms, from a respect of the spatial limits of the support, to attempts to escape from these limits using both the front and back of the canvas, from notions of two and three-dimensionality, to the innovative use of electronic and experimental media to create interactive works.

Hugo Lugo - Leer el presente, 2014

In this sense, we find works that transgress, transcend, expand and multiply the small surface or use both the front and back to create a diptych (Javier Arjona, Rodrigo Suárez), or that create sculptures with multiple surfaces (Sergio Elefante) or that insert unfolding and projection devices (Daniel Alcalá, Emerson Balderas).

Javier Arjona - Obelisco, 2014

Rodrigo Suárez - Cosmos de bolsillo, 2014

Sergio Elefante - Peyote, 2014

Daniel Alcala - H, 2014

Emerson Balderas - Bereshith bara; El mutante, 2014

Others allude ironically to the limited size of challenging the viewer with warnings like “respect the boundaries” (Helena Fernández-Cavada). Still others play with the notions of two-dimensionality, three-dimensionality, balance and stability (Javier Hinojosa, Moris).

Helena Fernández-Cavada - Regla numero dos, 2014

Javier Hinojosa - Balance a partir de un marco ... ,2014

Moris (Israel Moreno) - La fuerza primitiva, 2014

In this collection it is worth noting the expertly executed paintings exploring mimesis and image reproducibility by Andrés Felipe Castaño and Nadja Lozano, or those that deal with the history of painting and its traditional genres by Edgar Cano, Omar O.H. and Ángel Solano, or those who use it ostentatiously as a critical tool, as in the case of Abraham Mascorro and his ironic play on the relationship between spectacle and fanaticism.

Andrés Felipe Castaño - Whip, 2014

Nadja Lozano - Fortis imaginatio generat casum, 2014

Edgar Cano - El intruso, 2014

Omar Ortiz Hernández - Nube, 2014

Ángel Solano - Muestra médica no negociable, 2014

Abraham Mascorro - Dios es redondo, 2014

In a critical sense, the work White Poisons by Jorge Ortega del Campo, made of sugar paste, also contains a complex narrative about addiction and fanaticism where sugar symbolizes cocaine in a country that is a world leader in diabetes and obesity, triggered by the influence of junk food largely introduced by the implementation of the NAFTA.

Jorge Ortega del Campo - White Poisons, 2014

Along those same lines, the work of Juan de Dios Mendoza, with the figure of the ‘dirty capitalist’ entitled I Have a Dream, alludes to the excess of neoliberal capitalism: in Mexico obesity, diabetes and associated diseases have become the number one public health concern.

Juan de Dios Mendoza - I Have a Dream, 2014

Among those who considered the canvas a record or intimate dialogue with memory, we can mention Eugenia Martínez and her work with family portraits and superimposed words resembling a crocheted rosary where she uses the lines of text to trace memory, or Aarón Jiménez with a Minuto de silencio, where he pays tribute to his recently deceased grandfather and his sartorial work by carving into the frame the shape of the typical work tools of a tailor. In both cases, manual labor is linked to personal memory.

Eugenia Martínez - Lobos, 2014

Aarón Jiménez - Minuto de silencio, 2014

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of technique, it is worth noting how many artists have used experimental or electronic media to create interactive works with moving images, light, sound or scientific procedures: Juan José Rivas who incorporates an acoustic device and a small human figure in order to humorously approach the concept of volume in the denser subgenres of heavy metal, Anni Garza Lau who uses radial waves to control a screen that generates cellular automata, Leslie García with her minimal luminous gesture, and Victor Pérez-Rul, whose crystallization processes and light-reactive electronic circuits produce a subtle sound. These are works that addressed the challenge of integrating a circuit in a tiny space, proposed by artists who bear witness to the relevant experimental techno-science art scene in the country.

Juan José Rivas - Arriba y adelante, 2014

Anni Garza Lau - From FM to Cellular Automata, 2014

Leslie García - Luminiscencia a 480 nanómetros, 2014

Victor Pérez-Rul - Cristal 04a, 2014

And resistance to barbarism is a powerful part of the Imago Mundi collection. The kidnapping and disappearance of 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Isidro Burgos Ayotzinapa Guerrero has mobilized Mexican society against the ruling classes at both economic and political levels. And many artists have projected in their works the malaise and protests aroused by the endemic violence that undermines the foundations of every project for the future.

The tragedy of the 43 students, for example, bursts from the work of Fritzia Irizar, who makes use of the book of Chinese wisdom I Ching and dust from 100 pesos notes. Víctor Lucero and Sabino Guisu make explicit reference to the number 43 on their canvasses.

Fritzia Irizar - Sin título (Kuai), 2014

Víctor Lucero - ¡Encontrar al niño!, 2014

Sabino Guisu - Sin título, 2014

But the issue of violence in a wider sense has also been addressed by many other artists. Decapitated bodies gruesomely adorn a street (Andrés Orjuela). The Mexican flag is degraded and burned with a physical-chemical process (Edith Medina). The Monument to the Revolution, symbol of a now sclerotic past, is paired with the image of the Colosseum (Tlanuac Mata Trejo). Accusations of Mexico and the United States’ shared responsibility for drugs and arms trafficking is reflected in the images of an assault rifle and marijuana leaf (José Luis Bojorquez).

Andrés Orjuela - Tres de once al piso, 2014

Edith Medina - Descomposición controlada, 2014

Tláhuac Mata Trej - Arena totalitaria, 2014

José Luis Bojórquez - Relación bilateral: Esta..., 2014

The works of the Mexican artists reveal a reality in constant motion. It is no coincidence that Luciano Benetton, in presenting the Imago Mundi collection, recalls how Mexico is growing economically even though disturbing shadows continue to haunt the democratic life of the country. In the arts, moreover, “there are signs of innovation, vitality and open revolt that bring positive glimmers for the future of Mexican art and beyond. Maybe - Luciano Benetton reflects – inspiration is no longer offered by collective and universal worldviews. Perhaps the Revolution of yesterday is, today, above all resistance to barbarism. Perhaps the future appears truly fluid and undefined.”

Raúl Calderón Gordillo - Escritura impresa, 2014

The commitment of the curators has enabled a thorough exploration and analytical presentation of the pieces of the variegated universe that is Mexico: Ariadna Ramonetti Liceaga (The Future is Unwritten), Bárbara Perea (Conditional Perfect: Notes for an Uncertain Future), Iñaki Herranz (Subverting an Invitation), Octavio Avendaño Trujillo (Go Beyond the Content). From the contributions of each of the curators emerges a palpable anxiety for the future closely linked to a sense of worry and uncertainty. An intractable obstacle that is clearly apparent in the words of a key figure in Mexican artistic culture: Guillermo Santamarina. “I think the alternatives have been exhausted - Santamarina bitterly concludes - and many of us will have to resign ourselves to live in marginal situations, besides the enormous loneliness that we all live.”

Credits: Story

Curation and project management
Ariadna Ramonetti Liceaga,
Bárbara Perea,
Iñaki Herranz,
Octavio Avendaño Trujillo

Valentina Granzotto,
Valentina Pozzoni

Editorial coordination:
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton,
Ariadna Ramonetti Liceaga,
Iñaki Herranz,
Bárbara Perea,
Octavio Avendaño Trujillo,
Demetrio De Stefano

Editing and translation:
Sandro Berra,
Carlo Antonio Biscotto,
Emma Cole,
Ferena Lenzi,
Pietro Valdatta,
Bruno Vepkhvadze

Art direction:
Namyoung An

Marco Zanin

Marco Pavan

Special Thanks to:
Ana Elena Mallet
independent art curator:
Guillermo Santamarina
MACG Curator, Ciudad de México:
Gerardo García de la Garza
Irving Domínguez
independent art curator:
Laureana Toledo
Mariana David
Director MUCA Roma, Ciudad de México:
Huguette Cervantes
Rafael Micha
member of Grupo Habita and art collector:
Violeta Solis
independent art curator:
All the artists board of specialists in contemporary art for Imago Mundi Mexico Collection

Credits: All media
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