Overuse “huge” nowadays and you are likely to sound like Donald Trump. Yet “huge” may be the best word to describe the current art exhibition, “Viaje Alrededor del Mundo” (Traveling the World), shot straight from the heart of Germany to Guadalajara’s Instituto Cultural Cabañas and the MAZ (Museo de Arte Zapopan).
It’s huge all right, filling 13 salons in the huge Cabañas complex (not to mention the MAZ) and including a whopping 100 artists born during a huge span of time – approximately 1890 to 1980 – each of whom are represented by, on average, four pieces, a total of 400.
While none of the artists are well known – a statement by the curators (in English) describes them as “hitherto unseen” – I found the artistic language representative of the era, the pieces generally engrossing (if often weird or disturbing), and the show a tour de force of the leading edge in the history of art during the tumultuous 20th century.
Perhaps no country has been closer to this tumult than Germany and at the same time had the resources and the will to document it. The nation was Europe’s artistic beacon but, of course, also became ground zero for World Wars I and II and for the rise and fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall, and was the spawning ground of the world’s most infamously bad leader ever. (No, not Donald Trump.)
The highlights of the show for me were the photographs, whether those artistically documenting the period after World War II or the protests against the European summit meetings of the late 20th century, as well as the playful but critical electronic sculptures of North Korean refugee Nam June Paik who took up residence in Germany.
It may be that the German show’s title, “Traveling the World,” promises a huger scope than it actually delivers. (And yes, English teachers, “huger” is the technically correct and admittedly strange, comparative form of “huge.”)
But the show is definitely more wide-ranging than another lovely exhibit on the northern side of the Cabañas complex, “Jorge Martínez, Cien Años, Experimentaciones Oníricos” (Jorge Martínez, 100 years, Dreamlike Experimentation) which highlights a single, local artist of great renown and will be of interest to aficionados of Mexican art.
This is a beautifully hung show encompassing several large salons and commemorating Martínez’s birth in 1916. (He died in 2011.) The painter got his start as assistant to renowned muralist José Clemente Orozco and Martínez’s large body of arresting and occasionally critical paintings shows the surrealistic influence of Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico. The last room of assemblages — items picked up in local flea markets and put together whimsically but with great care for composition — is a nice surprise.
“Viaje Alrededor del Mundo” shows until February 12 at both Instituto Cultural Cabañas and MAZ, although the selection of works at MAZ is much smaller.
“Jorge Martínez, Cien Años, Experimentaciones Oníricos” shows until October 23 at Instituto Cultural Cabañas.
Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Cabañas No. 8, a ten-minute walk east of Teatro Degollado through Plaza Tapatía. Cost 70 pesos; 45 pesos if you show “national” ID. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission Tuesdays. Call (33) 3668-1645, 3818-2800, see http://hospiciocabanas.jalisco.gob.mx.
MAZ, Prolongación 20 De Noviembre, Zapopan, a five-minute walk east of the Basilica del la Virgen de Zapopan. Closed Mondays; open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every other day. 13 pesos to enter. Call (33) 3818-2575, see www.mazmuseo.com.