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Mexico’s artistic scene is having one of its best moments since artists like Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and obviously, Frida Kahlo featured and created one of the best-known artistic scenes in the whole world. Thanks to them Mexico acquired a well-recognised position in addition to the countries’ culture, gastronomy and touristic emblematic personality. Since then, a long list of events has occurred that updated and nourished a new artistic scene in this Latin American country.

To this present day, Mexico is host to many contemporary museums, art fayres, and galleries that feature the most recognized contemporary artists in the world. Only a few weeks ago art fayre Zona Maco, was presented for the sixth time in Mexico City, defining it as the most important art fayre in all Latin America. As a result, a big wave of Mexican contemporary artists have risen from this fruitful scene and made it to the biggest names there are in terms of art fayres, museums, and institutions all around the globe. As a Mexican and team member of Kooness, I am delighted to share with you some of the most important names that you cannot miss. 

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Gabriel Orozco

This artist is originally from the east coast of Mexico, Veracruz, even though he grew up in Mexico City, he always surrounded by artistic stimuli as his father was a very well known muralist. Gabriel Orozco is probably the most representative contemporary artist of the country and has been present in the most important art scenes in the world. He has curated exhibitions at the Venice Biennale and exhibited artworks in museums like the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Contemporary Art Museum of Tokyo and the Tate Modern. As part of his work, he includes geometrical studies and has looked to explain and define beauty through random chance creating photographs, installations, and sculptures. Orozco has been a key actor in the creation of new spaces and the general promotion of the Mexican contemporary scene. Along with other artists and important figures he has successfully promoted his and others’ artworks and even founded new spaces like is the Kurimanzutto Gallery in Mexico City. 

 

Gabriel Orozco, Oroxxo Photo, Estudio, Michel Zabe.


Gabriel Orozco was invited to present his creations at the 1993 Art Biennale, where he left an empty shoebox in the middle of one of the exhibition spaces. Audiences were intrigued to understand the meaning of such an apparently irrelevant object in a transcendental art space like is the Venice Biennale. More recently at Kurimanzutto Gallery, Orozco opened a convenience store called "Oroxxo", inspired by the hugely popular franchise “Oxxo”. During 30 days everyday consumer goods were altered and intervened by the artist. These objects could be bought by the visitors as if it was an ordinary object inside one of the many thousands of “Oxxo” convenience stores, however, the prices were much higher.
 

Carlos Amorales

This artist is wide in forms and contents, as Amorales navigates through themes like national identity, the effects of violence caused by drug cartels in Mexico, fear and the collective subconscious. He experiments with traditional artisanal techniques and conceptual art, poetry and music and, even in his latest works, he has worked with motion graphics and videos. Amorales has featured in different museums including The Irish Museum of Modern, the MoMa in New York, Pompidou Center in Paris and the Tate Modern.  The Mexican artist also exhibited last year “L’ora dannata” at Fondazione Pini in Milano, where more than 15,000 figures of black butterflies decorated the place.

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Carlos Amorales, L'ora dannata. Courtesy by Fondazione Pini

 

One of the most important projects of his career is “Liquid Archive - Why fear the future”, a compilation of images of his initial artworks that formed the bases of his multi-formatted creations, he has been working on this archive for over 25 years and is currently being exposed in the Modern Art Museum of Stedelijk, Amsterdam.  The archive has been built using images from magazines, internet, films and has been vectorized into computer-generated images. 

 

Teresa Margolles

She was born in the north of Mexico, Culiacán (Sinaloa) house of many famous drug lords such as “El Chapo”. Margolles is a conceptual artist, videographer, photographer with a diploma in forensics. Her main topic is focused on understanding the social consequences of death, in particular after the wave of violence suffered in Mexico since 2006 when a conservative political party declared the war on drug cartels. Since her first years in the 90s, Margolles has tried to shed light on the killings and open the debate around the topic to the public sphere. For more than 15 years she worked in morgues and since this new wave in 2006 she took her research to the street. She has approached death trying to understand the impact on the daily life of ordinary people and the direct impact on their families, the communities and cities. Through her calling on violence through visual and artistic research she has won an important recognition in the international contemporary art scene. Her work has been exhibited in important scenarios in Australia and Europe including the Venice Art Biennale of 2009. 

 

Teresa Margolles. What else could we talk about?. Photo Courtesy of Venice Biennale.

 

As part of her initial works on violence in Mexico, during the 90s, she once met the mother of an assassinated young punk man. The mother told Margolles she had no money to pay for a coffin, so Margolles carried out a deal with her, consisting of exchanging the pierced tongue of the deceased son for a coffin so that the family was able to carry out the burial. The tongue was exhibited as one of the artists’ most iconic pieces.  Later on, Margolles has continued to explore these themes utilizing forensic material and human body parts. From 2000 onwards and especially from 2006 she realized that she no longer needed to work on the morgue since the violence exploded in such a way that bodies and bodyparts were now to be found hanging from bridges, on the streets, and on the fields. Death passed from being private, a hidden happening to a public daily event. She collected objects and images of these moments which changed the life of not only individuals but the local communities and the country in general. 

Margolles presented her artwork “What else could we talk about?” in 2009 at Venice Biennale, where she collected blood from crime scenes with clothes and warm water, she would then mop the floor of the Palace where she exhibited her work every day during the art Biennale. Last year at the Venice Biennale as well, she installed three glass panels with plastered newspapers and advertisements of missing women in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. With some special audio equipment, these panels would rumble, replicating the reverberation of the train that crosses the area where sometimes female bodies were found. 

In 2012 Teresa Margolles presented an exhibition at the 2012 Berlin Biennale, which consisted of a collection of magazines and newspaper images that narrated the more 37,000 killings in the city of Ciudad Juárez, (located at the border between Mexico and the USA). Many of these killings were femicides and inspired later works by her that are permanently displayed in Mexico and have won her many distinctions around the world. 

 

Minerva Cuevas

Born and raised in Mexico City, she studied visual arts and created a wide variety of works which include formats as multimedia, images, photographs, paintings, spacial interventions, film, and performance. The main motif found across her creations is charged with an economic and political critique of the social structures and unbalances between different strata. Cuevas is also considered to be a social activist as she constantly calls on social and ecological injustice in the economic world system, proposing equilibrium and economic redistribution. In 1998 she created “Better Life Corp”, an initiative that offers free products and services such as international student cards, metro cards, lottery tickets, and lunch vouchers. She also is a member of irational.org, a group of artists and organizations with similar causes to her work and initiatives. 
 

Minerva Cuevas. Donald Mc Ronald. Courtesy Kurimanzutto Gallery

 

Cuevas’s exhibits are usually charged with satirical humour and plays advertisement formats, often using famous international brands of consumption, inviting and challenging audiences to analyse the value exchanged with these companies in which they participate every day in the capitalist system. She is a fierce critique of the system and has been able to present in renowned Biennales like Liverpool 2006, Berlin 2010, Sao Paolo 2006, New Orleans 2017. She has also exhibited her work in institutions like Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Total Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul South Korea, Museum Ludwig in Cologne Germany and many more. 

 

Lozano Hemmer

This self-described electronic artist from Mexico City uses as the pillar of his proposals, technology used through interactive installations that relate to architecture and performing arts. Even though the themes display along his works are varied, the main topic in his productions is to create platforms that promote public participation, exploring the different artistic speeches available through the use of robotics, computer-based surveillance, and other technological interfaces.Lozano-Hemmer plays with the possibilities that audiences have in terms of participation and involvement. He inserts criticism to power and the dominating, observing systems. On other occasions, he has directed rhythm and purpose of his speech through the possibilities offered by the interface.

 

Lozano Hemmer. Vicious Circular Breathing. Photo by Mariana Yanez

 

His works are a reflection on how human-machine interaction can be used to construct the meaning of art, what its contributions can be to the symbolic creation universe. He approaches the possibilities that media and technology give to artists to create and communicate new concepts that otherwise would not be able to be transmitted. Amongst his works “Subtitled Public” is “an empty exhibition space where visitors are detected by a computerized surveillance system. When people enter the space, the system generates a subtitle for each person and projects it onto him or her: the subtitle is chosen at random from a list of all verbs conjugated in the third person. The only way of getting rid of a subtitle is to touch another person, which leads to the two subtitles being exchanged.” 

Other works include Tape Recorders  “an installation containing rows of motorized measuring tapes recording the amount of time that visitors stay in the installation. As a computerized tracking system detects the presence of a person, the closest measuring tape starts to project upwards. When the tape reaches around 3 meters (9.8 ft) high, it collapses and recoils back”. He was the first artist to officially represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition at Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in 2007. Collections holding his work include the MoMA in New York, Tate in London, and many more. He has also received two BAFTA British Academy Awards for Interactive Art in London as are other international awards. 

The contemporary art scene in Mexico is constantly growing, new artists with new formats and proposals are on the rise. These previously mentioned artists are just a few of the iconic Mexican contemporary artists out there, they works are varied, rich in content and they are worth a closer look if you are a true art lover and conoceur.

Cover image: Gabriel Orozco, Oroxxo Photo, Estudio, Michel Zabe.

 

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.
 

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