Global Modernisms: Latin America Pt. 1

For most of the 20th century it was assumed that modernism belonged to the Western Euro-American domain. However, there were junctures of global modernism that occurred in many hot spots around the globe: zones of interactions with modernization that prompted negotiations with one’s traditional culture and the rapid changes happening it. Travel, sometimes subsidized by national cultural programs, the exchange of ideas through books and film helped bring to the West disruptions of traditional Greco-Roman/European aesthetics while simultaneously invigorating artists in non-Western countries, who were coming to terms with their own changing world and identities. Wiley-Blackwell has published a wonderful overview in their Modern Art in Africa, Asia and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms

The 1920’s, the 1950’s after the war, the late 60’s and early 70’s, the 80’s were all periods of intense change, idea migration and paradigm shifts. In Latin America many forms of art were impacted by political revolutions, oppression and wars. Native or Colonial styles of art were insufficient in communicating visually what was happening in these worlds, but would still serve as elements of the visual vocabulary. Modern art in these countries would use the visual arts to depict the negotiations and violence occurring to the Latin American psyche and spirit while also allowing the artist and viewer to transcend and challenge. These works are worth viewing outside of the Latin American contexts as the dynamics, passions, conflicts are not isolated, they are both relevant and inspiring for humanity at large.

MEXICO

José Vasconcelos, a writer, sociologist, historian, lawyer and philosopher was appointed minister of public education in 1921. Following the fragmentation of the civil war Vasconcelos commissioned many public murals, helping to establish a unifying “Mexican art” practice.

Logo of the National University of Mexico designed by Vasconcelos when he was rector
Logo of the National University of Mexico designed by Vasconcelos when he was rector

Diego Rivera, perhaps one of the most famous in part due to his work on commissioned public works in the 1920’s, had traveled to Europe in 1907 becoming acquainted with the work of Matisse, Picasso and Gaugin. While having some success in Europe as a cubist, the Mexican Revolution (1914-15) and the Russian Revolution (1917) transformed his calling to that of wishing to reflect the lives of the working class and native peoples of Mexico. Returning to Mexico to paint a series of public murals. During the 30’s and 40’s he was commissioned to paint murals in the United States, some were controversial due to his politics.

El Vendedor de Alcatraces
El Vendedor de Alcatraces

There is not enough space to devout to Frida Kahlo, a gifted Mexican artist who caught the eye of famous surrealists like Andre Breton. Kahlo however denied the surrealist label, she was not depicting her dreams she explained, she was depicting her reality.  Raised by a German father and Mexican mother during the Mexican revolution, her mother domineering and depressive, Kahlo suffered from polio as a child. Her father encouraged her to engage in sports, bike riding, typically boy activities in order to regain her strength.  However, later in her young life a traffic accident shattered her body and altered her life. Recovering in isolation and coping with the reoccurring pain Kahlo channeled everything into her artwork. Drawing upon Christian and Jewish themes as well as Mexican mythology, bright local colors and themes, Kahlo pioneered a very personal surrealist style that was well-received in both the U.S. and Paris.

Self Portrait, Kahlo, 1940

Self Portrait, Kahlo, 1940

José Clemente Orozco was a painter who helped establish the Mexican muralist movement along with Rivera and Siqueiros. He was inspired by the Symbolist movement and was politically committed to helping the poor and working class. Of the three Mexican muralists, Orozco’s works were darker, more concerned with the bloody toll the Revolution was causing. Injured by fireworks chemicals during Mexican Independence Day celebrations he was unable to see a doctor for several days due to the festivities. Subsequently gangrene set in and he had to have his left hand amputated. He started painting political murals during the 20’s, his works were set apart by their focus on human suffering. After spending some years in New York and enjoying success painting murals in CA and New Hampshire he returned to Mexico where he was invited to paint the ceiling of the Government Palace in Guadalajara. The work was entitled The People and Its Leaders. Soon after he was asked to paint frescos inside Guadalajara’s Hospicio Cabañas. This would be considered his masterpiece, a “Sistine Chapel of the Americas,” depicting a panorama of Mexican history from pre-Colonial times through the Mexican Revolution.

Zapatista's Marching - Jose Clemente Orozco
Zapatista’s Marching – Jose Clemente Orozco

 

David Alfaro Siqueiros was born in 1896 in Mexico. He was a social realist muralist and Mexican Communist.  As a young teen he was inspired by the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism and the works of Dr. Atl who called for Mexican artists to develop their own national style. After the Mexican revolution he traveled to Paris where he met Diego Rivera and became acquainted with the styles of Cubism and Cezanne. In the 1930’s Siqueiros traveled to NY, where he ran a workshop for artists in preparation for the 1936 General Strike for Peace. Jackson Pollack attended the workshop learned the drip and pour technique from Siqueiros. In the late 30’s Siqueiros traveled to Spain to help fight against the Franco fascists before returning to work on murals. Later participating in a failed assassination attempt on Trotsky who was seeking asylum in Mexico forced Siqueiros into hiding.

Mural - David Alfaro Siqueiro
Mural – David Alfaro Siqueiros

 

Global Modernisms: Africa

The last twenty years in visual culture studies have seen a divergence from the hegemonic view that had dominated the academy for centuries, the assumption that what we define as “civilization” evolved only  along the trajectory of:  Egypt->Greece->Rome->Medieval Europe->Anglo-Britain->America. We know now that there have been multiple civilizations across the globe. We are now coming to realize there have also been in the 20th century multiple modernisms.

Art History departments, textbooks and museum exhibits are now reflecting histories, examples and works from these global, modern movements.  No longer is non-Western art a kind of monolith or Other, relegated only to the pre-Colonial and the Ancient.  Modernism has occurred vigorously and authentically in varying junctures in South, East and Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

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Vision of the Tomb (1965), by Ibrahim el-Salahi PR

From the continent of Africa, the cradle of humanity and large enough to contain the countries of China, US, Europe and India, we are now seeing recognition paid to burgeoning scientists, engineers, artists and other cultural leaders.  While European modernism was ‘revolutionary’ for involving visual concepts from the non-Western world, the convention had long been to embrace, celebrate and condone these acts of intellectual appropriation….while similar efforts by the non-Western artists were derided and dismissed as imitation. The academy is gradually shifting, partly in response to global currents in the art market that have taken the art centers away from Paris, London and New York, but the road toward changing discourse and practice is ongoing.

During the 1950’s Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi pioneered, like other non-Western artists for their countries, a new visual vocabulary by fusing and re-interpreting Islamic, African, Arab and Western aesthetics.  Having returned to Sudan from London in 1957, and rising to become undersecretary for culture, he traveled to Nigeria to meet writers Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka (who have a contentious view on the topic of African modernism) as well as the modern artists from Senegal, Uche Okeke and Demas Nwoko.  The 1960’s in Africa saw a kind of a renaissance in Africa, although the 1970’s found El-Salahi imprisoned without charge during the Nimeiri regime.  Later released in 1977 he moved to Qatar to serve as a cultural minister, emigrating later to England.  He currently finds himself working to promote the growth and acceptance of modernism within African nations while he enjoys recognition and success in the West.

A Beninese artist who followed in El-Salahi’s footsteps is the artist Meschac Gaba who pragmatically realized how the common people were not going to museums or understood contemporary art, so he took his work as performances to the markets and the streets.  Within the gallery space his installation works are comments on economics, culture and the ways in which life and art blur

The road to recognition of modernism in non-Western countries has been tumultous. Understanding the push-back against modernisms around the globe has always been political as well as cultural. Whether this is internal among civic governments, cultural ministers or between larger, cultural regions and established academies,  to study emerging visual culture is to have a finger on a people’s unconscious pulse, something that cannot be easily controlled.  It is what it means to be avant-garde, and why art can be revolutionary.  It is also why it is so critically important to humanity. As Theodore Roethke once wrote “Art is our defense against hysteria and death.”

Punk Rock Holiday Markets, Yule Bazaars and Cocktails

As the holidays pick up, more fun events are added to the local calendar. It’s hard to keep up! Subscribe to stay tuned in for new happenings and reviews!

 

punk rock xmas

Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Lost Well, 2421 Webberville Road, 2pm til 8pm.  Hand-rolled Tamales and over a dozen local Punk Rock Artists. Get unique gifts! Jewelry, organic soaps, art – full list of artists and info can be found here.

Or maybe you might be interested in Holistic/Wellness shopping for body products, jewelry, and crystals while sipping specialty cocktails like the Vampyress or Butterfly Nectar and enjoying out of this world Italian food? Sunday Dec. 13, 5pm-11pm at the Vortex on 2307 Manor Road. 

holistic market

 

Maybe you’re not interested in an evening affair – the same Butterfly Bar cocktails will be available next to the Vortex at the following weekend’s Winter Yule Bazaar. This one promises DJs and belly dancers and a morning Yule ritual! Gifts provided by the East Austin Handmade Market. From Noon to 5pm, all weekend, all ages and free.   Dec. 19 and 20th. 

yule bazaar

 

Done with your shopping and still want to get your holiday spirit on? Come out and join the Solstice Lantern Parade!
Monday, December 21st, 2015, 5 pm  ***KID FRIENDLY!***  The site is TBA, and there are instructions on the page to make and bring your own lantern. Music will be provided by the Minor Mishap Marching Band, “Bourbon Street meets Budapest” they describe themselves. Sure to be a magical way to celebrate the shortest day of the year.

lantern

Eastside Pop-up Holiday Shopping – Local and Weird

Everyday I hear about more and more holiday shopping parties, brunches and bazaars. Want to stay informed? Subscribe to my blog, you’ll find the button to your right.

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Eastside Pop-up is promoting the event and a number of other great bazaars and shows this month.

Eastside Popup

stay gold

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festivus

  • And if that weren’t enough and you’ve still put off getting gifts for all those far-flung relatives who wonder what Austin is all about, you have one more chance to sip mimosas while you shop. There will be another Bazaar Brunch at the Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S. 1st, Dec. 20, 10am-3pm.

 

 

Austin Holiday Market Roundup

Not everyone likes to do their holiday shopping at big box chain stores.  The crowds, the neon, horrible music, bad food and drinks, and everything’s made overseas.

What if your shopping experience could be one with live music, local food and good drinks? Where you could find unique Austin gifts for your family, things that no one else will have. You’ll also feel great knowing your money went to supporting the funky vibe that you love about this city. Visit any of the shopping events below and I guarantee you’ll feel a whole lot better about getting out to brave the season.

  • Jo’s Sinner Sunday Holiday Extravaganza
    • November 29th from 12-5pm
    • 1300 S. Congress
    • Shopping from local South Congress vendors
    • Live music and food.
    • Santa will be on hand to pose for pictures in front of the “I love you so much” wall and in support of Operation Blue Santa, bring an unwrapped toy to receive a free coffee
  • Slackerville Holiday Shindig
    • Friday, December 4th
    • 2209 S 1st St, Austin, Texas 78704
    • Magical evening of music, nibbles and libations, firepits, and art
  • 40th anniversary Armadillo Bazaar
    • December 15 – December 24, 10am to 10pm daily 
    • Music festival and local art bazaar with beer and food.  $8 for the day.
    • Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78704. Parking is available in the Palmer Events Center/Long Center garage for $8.
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar
    • Nov 27 at 10:00am to Dec 24 at 6:00pm
    • 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin, Texas 78752
    • Free admission and parking.

Best Place to Shop Austin Style for the Holidays

2015 Marks the 15th Anniversary of the Blue Genie Art BazaarNov. 27th – Dec. 24th at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre (that’s across from Highland Mall) featuring handmade artwork & gifts from over 200 local & regional artists.  A portion of proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and admission is free!

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Who will be there? Here is their directory.

What can you find there? Paintings, photography, prints, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, accessories, glassworks, ceramics, and more!

artbazzar

You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter for more info.

bottles

Artist Wade Beesley’s Bottle N Soul