Monday, November 4, 2019

The Genius of Mexican Artisans

Before I left for Mexico I wrote about an exhibition that was being held at the colonial era Palace of Iturbide in the Historic Center of Mexico City.  The free exhibit is entitled Great Masters of Mexican Popular Art, and it will run until April of next year.  The show presents the work of talented artisans whose handicrafts are truly works of art.  It definitely lived up to my expectations.

The first work as you enter the palace is appropriate for the Day of the Dead season, and it is an example of how Mexican folk art puts a humorous slant on death.  It is a representation of a funeral, and all the participants are skeletons.   These figures come from the town of Metepec in the State of Mexico which is famous for its pottery and objects modeled from clay.

Metepec is best known for its "Tree of Life" sculptures.  These intricate clay figures originally portrayed the Bible story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Now the craftsmen create a wide variety of themes.  This one is decorated with miniature Nativity scenes.  

The masters of Metepec were well represented in the exhibit.  This delightful work in clay shows a Mexican market scene.

Look at the incredible realism and detail of this work in clay portraying soldiers of the Mexican Revolution having breakfast.

These figures are examples of the black pottery for which the town of San Bartolo Coyotepec in the state of Oaxaca is famous.

San Martín Tilcajete, also in the state of Oaxaca, is known for its wooden "alebrijes".  There were a couple of pieces created by Jacobo Angeles, and I am proud to say that I have one of his "alebrijes" at home.  Notice the incredible intricacy of the hand-painted designs on these carvings.  He must use a brush with one bristle.

This Mayan figure from the state of Chiapas is carved from amber.

These large clay figures of jaguars are from the town of Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas.

Taxco in the state of Guerrero was an important silver mining town in colonial times.  It is still famous for its silversmiths who create objects such as this.

Olinalá, also in the state of Guerrero, is famous for its laquerware.

This is just a tiny sample of the thousands of items on display at this exhibit.  I look forward to going back when my cousin and her friend are here later this month.  I am sure that they will be impressed with the creativity and beauty of Mexican popular art.

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