ST. PETERSBURG, FL.-
The Magic Eye (1989), a large-scale etching and aquatint by the Cuban-born artist Julio Larraz from the Museum
s collection, inspired Dreams and Realities: Latin American Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors, 1950-1991. Part of ARTE 2010: Tampa Bays Festival of the Americas, Sueños y Realidades: Grabados, Dibujos, y Acuarelas latinoamericanos, 1950-1991 is on view from October 2, 2010-February 6, 2011. The St. Petersburg Times is the media sponsor.
Larraz transforms the ordinary objects in the composition, from the oversized melons to the expressive lighting and palette, to create a mood of intense drama. The more than 30 works in Dreams and Realities offer a fascinating introduction to the themes and styles in post-1950 Latin American art.
Influences are complex and multilayered: Cubism, Surrealism, indigenous cultures, the tradition of caricature and social commentary, and magic realism. Among the other artists represented are José Luis Cuevas and Francisco Zúñiga (Mexican), Roberto Matta (Chilean), Carlos Poveda (Costa Rican), Omar Rayo (Colombian), and Antonio Seguí (Argentinean).
Cuevas and Zúñiga are two of Mexicos and Latin Americas best known artists. Cuevass strong and satirical graphic work frequently targets the powerful and captures the struggles of the marginalized. Such graphic art is a great part of the Latin American tradition.
Though born in Costa Rica, Zúñiga became Mexicos most recognized sculptor. His sculptures of strong indigenous women suggest veritable earth mothers and reflect a critical dimension of Mexican culture. Those figures can be seen in his prints and drawings in this exhibition.
While indigenous people have survived the persecution and destruction of their traditions since the Spanish conquest, they and their rich cultures have influenced some of Mexicos greatest artists, such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and José Clemente Orozco. Zúñiga similarly draws on close observation of indigenous people.
André Breton, who wrote the First Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, noted that Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world. This perspective applies to much of Latin America. As a result, surrealist currents flow through a number of the works in the show, including Seguís Man with Tie (1966).
Very little of this art was created in isolation. Many of these artists have traveled extensively and have lived and studied in the United States and Europe. A number of the works are in the Modernist tradition. At the same time, they reveal their Latin American roots.
The MFAs collection of Latin American art took a giant step forward in 1995 with donations from two private collections. Twelve paintings and one work on paper came from the Estate of Lois I. Shipp, and nearly 40 paintings and works on paper were given by Marcia and the late Irwin Hersey. The Herseys have been two of the most generous art donors in the Museums history. Works by many of the artists represented in the collection and in Dreams and Realities are rarely seen in the area, making this a significant addition to ARTE 2010.