Oaxaca’s Painting Biennial at MACO

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MACO stands for Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca. We had the good fortune to visit during the XVII Rufino Tamayo Biennial Exhibition. Tamayo,  born in Oaxaca, was one of the great Mexican painters of the 20th century. The exhibition of 50 artworks ranging from abstraction to realism is a juried show of painters working in the region.

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The witty mixed-media work  by Victor Suiser, above, is called “Tepeyollotl ruge con la voz de cuatrocientos jergas” Roughly translates, maybe, to “The Jaguar/Earth God roars with the voice of 400 hoodies.” (thanks, Google) Those are ten peso coins for eyes.

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Suave Patria by Sergio Garvel 2016

The work above, Suave Patria, Smooth Country, by Sergio Garvel is oil paint and gold leaf on canvas. It recalls the tzompantli , or skull racks of the Aztecs and Maya. The shopping cart might reference the carts protesters filled with stones during Oaxaca’s street battles of 2006.

The art students with me pointed out their favorite paintings. Several were drawn to Fernando Motilla Zarur’s photo-realistic self-portrait, oil on canvas, 2015. MACO is worth a visit no matter what is on the walls. The historic building was long ago the home of Spanish nobility. It was said to have been a home of the Conquistador Hernando Cortez, though  historians now dispute that idea.

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Autoretrato by Fernando Motilla Zarur

Fragments of 17th century murals adorn the walls. You can see them beside Zarur’s self-portrait(above).  Sarape #1 , (below) by Paul Muguet, 2016, was done with spray paint and masking tape. This homage to the humble blanket design in the context of a contemporary art museum is eye-poppping and provocative.

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Statuesque nudes on a runway is a jolting idea for a narrative painting. That is the theme of Samuel Melendrez Bayardo work, “El Aeropuerto de Paul,” oil on canvas, 2015.

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Detail of oil painting by Samuel Meledrez Bayardo
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Detail of work by Veronica Conzuelo Macedo

Veronica Conzuelo Macedo’s “Sorri mom I love graf” (detail, above) is a 21st century spin on the classic Mexican landscape. It is done in egg tempera on linen over wood.

This is just a small sample of the remarkable art in the exhibition. Some images were gritty, some witty, and few, I admit, I could not appreciate. Overall, however, I was struck by the keen technical skill and intelligence of the selected artists.

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Second Floor Gallery at MACO

MACO’s facebook page will have details about hours, and current exhibitions. I will leave you with one last image – A photo by Kutztown University student Samantha Kahres of a tourist admiring Siempre Verde (Always Green) by Anja Gerecke in MACO’s back patio.

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Photo © 2016 Samantha Kahres

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