PHILADELPHIA.-The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened the exhibit Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico, 19351950 through May 11. Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico, 19351950, the first exhibition of its kind in a major U.S. museum, examines the early work of one of modern Mexicos most intriguing artists. Although Juan Soriano (19202006) holds a critical position within the history of Mexican painting and sculpture from the 1930s until his recent death, his art is curiously almost unknown outside of Mexico. While recent exhibitions on Soriano have examined his paintings and sculpture from 1950 onward, very few have focused on the artist's exceptional paintings from the 1930s and 1940s. These worksportraits of friends and family, images of children, still-lifes, and landscapesoffer a distinctive variation on the themes and artistic styles that preoccupied Soriano's contemporaries. When Soriano moved to Mexico City in 1935 he entered into a lively visual and personal dialogue with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others. In addition to responding to the work of these prominent Mexican artists, he drew upon his deep interest in popular and indigenous arts, as well as Cubism, German Expressionism, Fauvism, and Surrealism, creating his own personal style of romantic realism.
The exhibition features a selection of sixteen objects, highlighting four by Soriano that are in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the only U.S. museum with a substantial number of his works. Girl with a Mask (1945) manifests the artist's poetically enigmatic style, as does Dead Girl (1938), seen above, in which disembodied hands add to a sense of the unreal. Still Life (1942), which is dominated by lush pinks and reds, and Girl with a Bouquet (1946), a study in varying tones of white, are outstanding examples of Soriano's mastery of form and color. A focused presentation of some of Soriano's best paintings, Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico, 19351950 grants a rare glimpse into a critical period in the career of a major Mexican artist.