Three Mexican Artists That Aren’t Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this holiday for it’s low-key, no pressure, let’s-just-eat-guac-and-drink-margaritas-but-not-feel-obligated-to-put-up-decorations-or-buy-gifts celebratory vibe! And speaking of guacamole, if you have a good recipe, send it my way. Since we got back from El Paso, I’ve been determined to perfect my guac. So far, I’ve purchased one avocado as a leap of faith that I would, in fact, attempt that lofty endeavor. It’s sitting by my fruit bowl mocking me. For more on avocados, see this past post!

I picked the following three artists because I like their art. If you are curious about other Mexican artists, you might check out Jose Clemente Orozco (his stuff was a little too dark for me) or David Alfaro Siqueiros (a little too Marxist for me) or Leonora Carrington (actually, her stuff is great, but the title of this post starts with “Three” not “Four” so someone had to get cut.)

  1. Remedios Varo: I gave Carrington’s spot to Varo for the sole reason that Carrington is British. She lived in Mexico for a long time, yes, but come on. Her last name is Carrington. To be fair, Varo is Spanish, but she did become a naturalized citizen of Mexico and she’s from a Spanish-speaking country, so she wins. Like Carrington and Kahlo, Varo was a Surrealist. No surprise, since she graduated from the same art school as Salvador Dali and worked as assistant to Marc Chagall for a time. Can you see the influence?

Incidentally, Carrington’s name is sprinkled throughout all Varo’s bios. They were the kind of friends that could work together and remain friends, as evidenced by the plays they co-wrote. In fact, in the name of friendship, here is a Carrington painting, even though her name may as well be Lady Fish ‘n’ Chips.

And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur. I love a lengthy title.

2. Fast forward several years, where Gabriel Orozco is currently producing awesome artwork after awesome artwork. I looked at some of his stuff before I read about him and was immediately drawn to his thought-provoking pieces, several of which have an eternal theme. Like his installment, Horses Running Endlessly, in which all the players are knights. Or the four-player ping-pond table encouraging a continuous, watery game. Or the painted skull (Black Kites), immortalizing the dead. Maybe his real theme is “play games until you die!” In any event, Orozco is alive and well and still creating cool stuff.

3. The third Mexican artist I want to mention is Rufino Tamayo. As was the trend during his career, he did plenty of murals, but was not considered one of the big three Mexican muralists (los tres grandes). They didn’t make this list because (spicy take!) I don’t like them or their art. Instead, I give you much cooler artwork from Tamayo, who has part of today’s holiday in his name and must be listed for that reason alone!

I appreciate Tamayo’s “less is more” philosophy when it came to color. Wikipedia quotes him as saying, “As the number of colors we use decreases, the wealth of possibilities increases.” He might use minimal color in his paintings, but he used them wisely. I appreciate that “less is more” philosophy. Unless we’re talking guacamole and margaritas. Then, it’s go big or go home.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!