Woman with scorpions, 1985
56 x 76 cm
© Francisco Toledo, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020
The exhibition Contemporary art in Oaxaca: vanguard, myth and tradition provides an overview of the various artistic manifestations that emerged from this southwest Mexican state.
Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Rodolfo Morales, Rodolfo Nieto, Juan Alcázar, Javier Maximino, Cecilio Sánchez, Irma Guerrero, Alejandro Santiago, Luis Zárate, Justina Fuentes and Felipe Morales make up the group of artists in the exhibition, with works ranging from the 1960s to the start of the 1990s.
The exhibition analyses different trends, languages and themes in Oaxacan art, showcasing its diversity as well as common features of artistic manifestations seen in contemporary art from this region.
The identity exploration in Oaxaca´s artists
The national element and ethnic and tribal aspects are shared by all of them. In these works by Oaxacan artists we see the exploration of individual, as well as collective, identity. Likewise, duality takes centre stage in their themes (night and day, myth and reality, masculine and feminine). Many of these subjects are directly derived from Zapotec cultural heritage (legends and traditions that already presented this dual nature), but it is also a direct reflection of the shared identity of a society that is heir to pre-Hispanic tradition and modern Western culture. This is reflected in its artistic language in which we identify both references to Aztec iconography, based on the use of colours and shapes, and influences from European avant-garde, especially expressionism and surrealism.
There are sixteen clearly defined indigenous ethnic groups in modern Oaxaca, with sixteen languages of their own, enjoying their own traditions and culture. This reality intermingles with modern life and Western cultural references and traditions, and is not separate from its artistic expressions.