Sculpture by Jimenez Deredia
In Mexico I am always, immediately struck by the emphasis on form in all the arts. Whether dealing with architecture and public spaces, with fresco painting, or - especially - with sculpture, the emphatic and confident use of form is a major, defining aspect.
If we look around, there are reasons. The land, shaped by volcanic activity, is dramatic, and these shapes were echoed in the iconic stepped pyramids of Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan.
The plants are sculptural.
The people themselves are monumental and beautiful.
There is a long history of form-emphatic art, from the very early Olmec heads (around 1000 BC)...
...through the long pre-Columbian period of remarkable ceramic sculpture...
...combined later with the Spanish wood-carving tradition.
Form finds expression in literal, representational ways, but also in abstraction: Mexico has a strong tradition of graphic design, surface decoration, typography, and pattern.
I'm always fascinated to see contemporary expressions of these traditions. While at the Museo Franz Mayer for the Decorative Arts, we saw an exhibition of contemporary ceramics. It was in two parts: a biennial competition for functional ceramics, and a separate room containing (mostly large) works by master living ceramic artists. I was crazy about some of these latter pieces and took pictures to show you:
Cactus, by Javier Villegas
Bodegon con taza y peces, by the same artist.
Florero, by Marta Ovalle
Horizontes continuos, by Gloria Carrasco. Each of these pieces is about two feet in the widest dimension. Aren't they beautiful?