Anguish of Being and the Nothingness of the Universe"
Marcos Raya (born 1948), a Chicago-based artist, was
born in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. He is best
known for his 1970s community-based
murals in many of Chicago’s working-class and
immigrant neighborhoods, for which he gained international notoriety. Raya’s
work on canvas was discovered in the late 1990s with his participation in the 1997 exhibition "Art in Chicago 1945–1995" at the Museum
of Contemporary Art Chicago. The son of Mexican workers, Raya
arrived in Chicago in 1964 at age 14 after his parents’ separation.
Largely self-taught, he attended courses at Mexico City’s San Carlos Academy in
the late 1960s. After he returned to Chicago from Mexico, the artist stumbled in and out of alcoholism, an experience that lent his work a hallucinatory intensity as well as a macabre sense
of humor. "The Anguish of Being and the Nothingness of the Universe" is a
large-scale contemporary tondo. One cannot help but think of it as a portable mural related
to the large-scale murals of Raya’s
early career, including "Homage to Diego Rivera," Raya's first one (at 18th Street and Main Street in Chicago) from 1972, in which the artist loosely
re-created Rivera’s destroyed 1933 Rockefeller Center mural, "Man at the Crossroads" (also known as "Man, Controller of
the Universe"). In both works, Raya is concerned with
fusing flesh and metal and in depicting a “mechanical universe” akin to the
Mexican muralist’s transformation of man into machine, a concern that the
Chicago-based artist also returns to in his work.