Mexico City: the home of Frida and Diego, muralists and Surrealists, top contemporary artists like Gabriel Orozco and Francis Alÿs, and of course Central America’s preeminent art fair, Zona Maco. For the occasion of the latter (which opens to the public tomorrow), we thought we’d highlight ten Mexican artists, both historic and contemporary, whose work you can discover this week in the booths of the fair’s top exhibitors.
Jorge Méndez Blake (b. 1974, Guadalajara): Méndez Blake draws literature into the realm of visual arts, saying that he “prefer[s] to be quoting others constantly.” His manipulations and appropriations include everything from narrative installations that translate (or negate) famous literary works to the “It Was a Pleasure Series”—a visual interpretation of a quote from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
Hugo Lugo (b. 1974, Los Mochis): Lugo is best known for his playfully photorealistic paintings that cast tiny men in surreal settings. “My work elaborates on two main aspects of human nature: the idea of subject as a representation, and representation itself,” he has said. “I’m interested in what can be said at the cross points of disciplinary conventions on drawing, painting, and photography.”
Emilio Chapela(b. 1978, Mexico City): Chapela is a conceptual artist with a background in mathematics and communications; his practice investigates systems of data, language, scientific experimentation, and networks of information exchange—sometimes even using them to generate the works themselves.
Marco Rountree(b. 1982, Mexico City): Rountree once described his artistic practice as being “about how you can give importance to objects by taking them home and treating them like a decoration.” His works and installations repurpose everyday items, like food or books, into new aesthetic configurations.
Bosco Sodi (b. 1970, Mexico City): Sodi creates his dense monochromes using raw pigment mixed with sawdust, wood pulp, natural fibers, and glue, which he applies, layer by layer, to large wooden slabs. His works are intimately tied to the environment, not only by virtue of his earthy materials but also because factors like humidity and altitude inform the characteristic cracks that emerge in his works as they dry.
Francisco Toledo(b. 1940, Juchitán de Zaragoza): Influenced in equal parts by folk art and European artists like Jean Dubuffet, Joán Miró, Paul Klee, and Francisco Goya, Toledo is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the arts and crafts of his native state, Oaxaca. He has produced paintings, lithographs, engravings, sculptures, ceramics, and even designs for tapestries made in collaboration with local artisans.
Edgar Orlaineta(b. 1972, Mexico City): Artist-designer Edgar Orlaineta pays homage to classic modernist designers in works that reconfigure their iconic creations into new pieces and installations. Explore his amazing Tumblr for more examples of his beautiful, playful work.
Miguel Covarrubias(b. 1904, Mexico City; d. 1957): One of Mexico’s great and underappreciated talents of the 20th century, Covarrubias was a prodigious draftsman best known for his caricatures that appeared in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. After receiving a grant and moving to New York at only 19, he befriended prominent figures in the Harlem Renaissance and also dabbled in ethnography and set design.
Armando Romero(b. 1964, Mexico City): Painter and sculptor Armando Romero reveres the masters of art history, like Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Velázquez, and irreverently mashes up their works with contemporary imagery and aggressive scrawls, doodles, and other forms of abstract mark-making.
Mathias Goeritz(b. 1915, Gdansk, Poland; immigrated to Guadalajara in 1949): A German-born naturalized Mexican citizen, Goeritz was a prolific artist in several mediums, as well as an influential teacher. He’s best known for his sculptures, including several public commissions and collaborations with architects that can be seen throughout Mexico to this day.