LONG BEACH, CA.- The Museum of Latin American Art
presents Siqueiros Paisajista / Siqueiros: Landscape Painter. This exhibition reveals the renowned Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros as a major landscape painter. The significance of the collaboration between MOLAA and the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil has been recognized by the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles who has made this exhibition an official part of its Mexico 2010 celebration which commemorates Mexicos Bicentennial of Independence and the Centennial of its Revolution. "It is a privilege to celebrate Mexicos Bicentennial with an exhibition of this caliber which reveals a lesser known side of one the great Mexican masters of 20th-century art, said Richard P. Townsend, President and CEO of MOLAA. We are especially pleased to show a number of Siqueiros most important landscape paintings drawn from the Carrillo Gils magnificent collectionexamples that confirm his brilliance as a landscape painter as well as a muralist."
This exhibition, the first of its kind to be presented anywhere, includes approximately half of the 150 landscape paintings that Siqueiros produced during his lifetime. This is the most significant exhibition of Siqueiros to be seen in the last ten years, stated MACG Director and exhibition curator Itala Schmelz. It is the result of more than three years of collaboration that included the precedent-setting gathering of artwork from more than 20 different museum and private collections in Mexico and the U.S., scholarly research by Christopher Fulton and additional research by a team of nine talented catalogue essayists. Featuring a selection of the most important landscape paintings and drawings, the exhibition reveals Siqueiros dynamic vision of futuristic cities, allegorical places and the environment. Utilizing an explosive color palette and experimental techniques, the landscape imagery is charged with the emotions of creation and destruction always present in the art of Siqueiros. Traditionally landscape paintings offer views of idyllic vistas, but these landscapes offer scenes of a troubled world, said MOLAA Senior Curator, Cynthia MacMullin. The gathered works poignantly emphasize Siqueiros concern for humanitys inability to serve its fellow men. Although several paintings are about the past, such as The Birth of Fascism, 1936, painted in response to the Spanish Civil War and The Explosion of Hiroshima of 1955, protesting the inhumane ending World War II, they are still relevant today, mirroring humanitys constant engagement with war and destruction.
As a prominent painter and political activist, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896 -1974) was an integral member of the Mexican School of Painting along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. He continues to be viewed as one of the most important Mexican artists of the 20th century although his artistic influence spread far beyond Mexicos borders.
Siqueiros organized artists in both Mexico and abroad to promote the idea of creating collective works. At the beginning of the 20th century, under the protection of Mexicos Secretary of Public Education, he created his first decorative mural. He advocated using art as a political tool and thought that mural art should be used as a public service for el pueblo (the community). As an active member of the Mexican Communist Party, Siqueiros fought as a colonel in the Mexican Revolution and again in the Spanish Civil War. He also fought for the rights of laborers and on several occasions his political activities put him in jail and even led to exile.
Siqueiros passionately declared his artistic and political views in public, arguing endlessly at conferences and in his writing. Although Siqueiros is represented in the historic canon of modern Mexican art as one of the leading proponents of public art for social action--largely due to his mural painting--it was through his easel painting that he studied an extensive variety of techniques and styles that allowed him to examine pictorial space, composition, light, shadow and color.
In addition to his exploration of techniques and styles, Siqueiros constantly experimented with new tools and materials. Of utmost importance is the technical aspect of the works of art included in this exhibition. After discovering various types of industrial materials produced in the United States in the 1930s, Siqueiros produced most of his easel works with uncommon materials which include Duco paint, a DuPont brand name for pyroxilin paint, a tough and resilient type of nitro cellulose paint manufactured for the automotive industry. Also utilized was vinylite paint, a type of lacquer with a vinyl base used for easel paintings or as a primer for mural works. Rarely working on canvas, Siqueiros preferred to paint on various types of composite wood surfaces such as Masonite, because of its low cost, ease of preparation, durability and receptiveness to pyroxilin and acrylic paints. The use of these industrial materials, not commonly used as fine art materials, again emphasizes the radical nature with which Siqueiros produced his art.