SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery is pleased to announce ¡Viva México!, a group show featuring Mexican photography, art and design, from Jul 24–Sep 27, 2020. The exhibition will present Graciela Iturbide and Armando Salas Portugal’s vintage prints executed in the 70s & 80s, Chucho Reyes’ classic works on paper, Lucía Vidales’ painting and ceramics, also a selection of interior goods made in Mexico, including handcrafted rugs and the Miguelito chairs designed by modern architect Luis Barragán. Rare art books will be available for viewing and purchase too. With the variety of art and design objects travelled afar, co-presented with the music selected by contemporary conceptual artist Mario Garcia Torres, this curatorial project serves to bring insights into the indescribably dynamic culture of Mexico.
Profoundly inspired during the photographic journeys to areas inhabited by Mexico’s indigenous peoples with master photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo in 1970–1971, Graciela Iturbide‘s attention had remained focused on Mexico across three decades until the 1990s. Shifted from film directing to documentary photography, the artist gradually established her style under the influence of Álvarez Bravo’s and Josef Koudelka’s poetic style, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s notion of the 'decisive moment,' and filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s surrealistic style. To Iturbide, photography is a medium and tool to connect with her own culture and encounter others’. Approaching her subjects with a poetic sensibility, her documentary photography, which the artist describes as the 'photo essay', reflects her strong interest in culture, ritual, and everyday life in her motherland Mexico and beyond. The five black and white vintage prints exhibited in this show cover her constant themes, including the interplay of urban and rural life, tradition and modernity, celebration and death.
Moved by the diverse natural environs of his homeland Mexico, Armando Salas Portugal traveled throughout the nation, photographing its varied landscapes that accumulated into an unparalleled archive. Salas Portugal also documented the rapid change of cityscapes in the economic boost, where he collaborated with many architects in Mexico City, making photographic records of the rise of numerous modernist structures in the 1960s and 1970s. Among them, he worked as the exclusive photographer of the internationally renowned modernist architect Luis Barragán’s for over 40 years. Barragán’s unique architectural expressions combined contemporary interpretations of traditional Mexican lifestyles seen in haciendas with the landscape design sensibilities of landscape artist Ferdinand Bac and Mediterranean architecture rooted in Arabic-Andalusian culture. Determined to carry out designs based on his beliefs and not the functionalist International Style popular at the time, he advocated an 'emotional architecture' and built numerous important structures. Three vintage prints from the renowned 'Casa de Luis Barragán (House of Luis Barragán)' series (c.a. 1962, 1974) will be exhibited in the group show.
Jesús Reyes Ferreira, widely known as Chucho Reyes, is a self-taught artist with one of the most authentic styles in Mexican art of the twentieth century. Although starting painting late, Reyes had shared close ties with cultural creatives circle since the 1910s as an antique dealer and art collector, opening up his home to art exchanges in hometown Guadalajara and the capital. Architect Luis Barragán considered Reyes as the teacher of colours, who used louvers and colour-play to create shifting light in interior space, and made his own pigments by traditional methods to capture colours of Mexican culture in his paintings. His lively body of work including oil canvas, drawings and sculptures executed in vivid, festive colours and bold brushstrokes also won the admiration of Pablo Picasso. As suggested by its title, Flores (n.d.) represents the classic iconographies of flowers on papel de china, tissue paper, a medium extensively used by Reyes to honour Mexican popular arts and papel picado designs. In other works, by overlaying two or more layers of brown paper, the artist experimented with tone and textured backgrounds to enhance specific themes.
By merging fiction and history through imagination, Lucía Vidales’ oeuvre constructs a personal universe bringing together the living of different times. In Vidales’ canvas, the multiple layers of paint display a range of densities and transparencies, which seemingly take on an organic life under the artist’s dynamic brushwork. Its capability in transformations when interacting with light and space further enhances the works’ expressiveness. As a signifier, the rich colours applied in Vidales’ paintings testify to the timely process of human labor in painting, as an attempt to bring inner world enrichment and consolation for wounds of the past and the present. Her semi-abstract and semi-figurative painting Pésima idea (Baad idea) (2018) and the low-temperature ceramics of Días y noches (Days and nights) (2019), Una explicación sin rostro (Faceless explanation) (2019) which referenced to the unglased practice and style of pre-Hispanic wares, represent a young voice in the exhibition to open up dialogues with masters of the twentieth century.
Graciela Iturbide (b.1942) was born in Mexico City where she currently lives and works. She enrolled at the film school Centro de Estudios Cinematográficos at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1969 to become a film director. However, she was soon drawn to the art of still photography as practised by the Mexican modernist master Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who was teaching at the university. From 1970–1971, she worked as Álvarez Bravo’s assistant, accompanying him on his various photographic journeys throughout Mexico. In the early half of the 1970s, Iturbide traveled widely across Latin America, in particular to Cuba, and several trips to Panama. In the mid-70s, Iturbide began to reveal a clear preference for the theatrical atmosphere of popular Mexican Festivals, where Catholic rites blend with indigenous tradition in a great carnivalesque celebration. Through these works, Iturbide emphasises the irony of Mexican imagery which represents death and accentuates the surrealistic character of these social rites. Her most renowned series 'Juchitán de Las Mujeres (Juchitan, A Town of Women)' (1979–1986) is a prolonged project featuring Zapotec Indians in Juchitán, who were economically and politically independent and enjoyed sexual freedom in their community. This series won the Eugene Smith Memorial Foundation Award in 1987 and was published in book form in 1989.
Iturbide’s selected solo exhibitions include Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. (2020), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2019); Graciela Iturbide 1969–1990, Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film, Tokyo (2016); Graciela Iturbide Retrospective, at Tate Modern (2013); Museo Frida Kahlo, Mexico City (2012); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2012); Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City (2011); MAPFRE Foundation, Madrid (2009); Fotomuseum Winterthur (2009); Americas Society, New York (2008); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2007); Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro (1993); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1990); Centre Pompidou, Paris (1982). Major awards include the Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement Award (2015); the Lucie Award (2010); National Prize of Sciences and Arts, Mexico City (2009); Hasselblad Foundation Photography Award (2008); Legacy Award (2007); Hugo Erfurth Award (1989); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1988); the Eugene Smith Memorial Foundation Award (1987).
Chucho Reyes, Jesús Reyes Ferreira (1880–1977), was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco and passed away in Mexico City. Influenced by his father, Reyes developed a profound interest in antiques and art. Without receiving a formal education in arts, Reyes presented infallible aesthetic sensibility and talents highly reputable in the upper society of his hometown Guadalajara, as well as among the cultural elites in Mexico City. From arranging the window displays at the artist supply shop to church altar dressing, interior design and art curation at home, and experimental art creation, Reyes established his personal avant-garde style with expressionist mark. Reyes enjoyed friendships with David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, Juan O’Gorman, Diego Rivera and Juan Soriano.. His major solo exhibitions include National Tribute, Magna Retrospective Exhibition on the occasion of his 82 years at Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 1962); Chucho Reyes at Plaza San Jacinto in San Angel (Mexico City, 1972); Chucho Reyes at Galeria Pecanins (Mexico City, 1975). Later exhibitions in tribute to him include Homage to Chucho Reyes at Museo Rufino Tamayo (Mexico City, 1984); La mirada estética de Jesús Reyes Ferreira at Museo de Arte Moderno (Mexico City, 2002); Chucho Reyes at Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (Mexico City, 2012); Chucho Reyes, The Show Will Start at Inverarte Art Gallery (San Antonio, Texas, 2014) and Chucho Reyes, La fiesta del color at Museo Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 2018).
Armando Salas Portugal (1916–1995) was born in Monterrey, Mexico. He moved to the U.S. in 1932 and he studied science at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1935 to 1938. After returning to Mexico, he traveled to various regions and acquired a camera for the first time. He documented the rich and diverse Mexican landscape from a unique perspective. Starting in 1941, these photographs were published in La Montaña, and Salas Portugal began exhibiting his photographs widely in Mexico. Among his photographs of Mexican architectures, Luis Barragán’s works, of which he was the exclusive photographer for over 40 years, are particularly famous. Executed under the compositional orders of Barragán, each print demonstrates the master architect’s unique aesthetics. Salas Portugal’s dialogues with Barragán and his works were carried out with notable intensity and they made his works even richer and more fertile than they might otherwise have been. Salas Portugal’s major solo exhibitions include Paisaje Mexicano at Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 1944–1946), Paisaje Chiapaneco at Circulo de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 1949), and Luis Barragán, Architect at the Museum of Modern Art (New York, 1980).
Lucía Vidales (b. 1986) was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She currently lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico as a BA professor at the University of Monterrey. She received her BA from ‘La Esmeralda’ National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking of the National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico in 2009 and MFA from the National Autonomous University of México, Faculty of Art and Design, UNAM in 2014. Vidales recently presented solo exhibitions at the House of Deslave in Tijuana, Galería de Arte Mexicano (GAM) and Galeria Alterna in Mexico City (2019). She participated in over forty group shows in Mexico and abroad. Recent group exhibitions include Murales para un cubo blanco at Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City (2020); Prince.sse.s des villes, at Palais de Tokyo, París (2019); 100 Sculptures at Anonymous Gallery, Mexico City and Paris (2019); Naturally at Lulu, Mexico City (2018), Tiger poems and songs for Hurricanes at Galería Travesía 4, Guadalajara (2018), Montar la Bestia at USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Museo Nacional de ferrocarril mexicanos, Puebla, CaSa, Oaxaca (2017).
Press release courtesy SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery.