VANCOUVER.- As a university student, Michael Audain travelled to Mexico to view the art of Mexican modernist masters Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco. He was inspired by the vibrancy and powerful social message of their art, and his passion for these artists remained with him. Many years later, the Audains began collecting their work and, today, own the largest collection of Mexican modernist art known in Canada . The Audains’ entire Mexican modernist collection – 18 paintings in all – is currently on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Shore, Forest and Beyond: Art from the Audain Collection, providing an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to experience this influential school of art.
“This is the largest and most important Mexican modernist collection in Canada ,” said Grant Arnold , the Gallery’s Audain Curator of British Columbia Art, “These paintings are fine examples of the art of each of these artists, and have never been publicly displayed by the Audains before.”
The calibre of the Audain collection has attracted attention both here in Canada and abroad. Two years ago, Diego Rivera’s 85-year old daughter came to Vancouver , heard about the Audain collection, and asked to see the paintings in the Audains’ home.
“I can tell you it was a very sensitive moment. She was moved to tears when she saw (her father’s self-portrait, Autorretrato). It was a work she had never seen before, and it brought back so many memories of her father,” said Michael Audain. Autorretrato is the only Rivera self-portrait not in a museum.
Among other notable paintings on display are Orozco’s Prometheus (1945), Sequeiros’ portrait of himself and his grandson titled Los Dos Davides (1963), and Tamayo’s sparkling La Constelacion (1947).
Rivera, Tamayo, Siqueiros and Orozco pursued an identifiably Mexican version of modernism that engaged with social struggle.
“Whereas Canadian modernism – as seen in the work of artists such as Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, Frederick Varley and others – focused on landscape as a source for identity, Mexican modernism directly addressed social struggle and the everyday lives of the Mexican people, particularly the country’s indigenous peoples” said Arnold, “These paintings provide a fascinating counterpoint to some of the stunning Canadian modernist works in the collection.”
Curator Grant Arnold will present a special tour and talk about the Mexican modernists at the Gallery on Wednesday, December 14th, 4pm.
Shore, Forest and Beyond: Art from the Audain Collection is on display until January 29th, 2012.