Bustos & Aragón: Mexico Then and Now
In a stark generational contrast, the Mexic-Arte Museum in downtown Austin is currently exhibiting the work of Arturo García Bustos, a student of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and a legend of Mexican printmaking in his own right, along side the work of Miguel Aragón, an emerging Mexican artist from Juarez who utilizes print processes (and occasional Printeresting guest-contributor). Each is strongly emblematic of their own respective moments in time. While the themes in their respective bodies of work aren’t without any common ground, it’s the differences that stand out.
Just to be clear, each artist has their own separate exhibition on view. In the pictures below, I weave back and forth between their images but the actual layout of the museum allows you to walk through a space featuring Bustos’ work and then through a space featuring Aragón’s work. While clearly distinct shows, it’s hard not to think of them in juxtaposition to one another. Bustos’ prints memorialize the Mexican Revolution and focus on the struggles of the common man while Aragón’s work’s work features the nameless faces of victims of Mexican drug violence.
Bustos’ prints harken back to what appear from 2012 to be simpler times (though no doubt they had their complexities). They focus on heroes. Whether iconic leaders like Zapata or the noble proletariat masses, the message is clear and the viewer understands where the artist stands on the subject. Aragón’s work, also figurative, is far more ambiguous- perhaps another symptom of the time? We see victims though we don’t know if they are are guiltless victims. Rather than focusing on action and “the fight” like Bustos, we see the sad result of violence. No winners, only losers.
From a printmaking stand point, Bustos is an accomplished draughtsman and makes technically masterful prints. Lithographs and linocuts utilizing black in on white paper dominate his show. Aragón’s work is also black and white, but his approach to print focuses on process. Using a handheld drill, he painstakingly copies xeroxed images appropriated from media sources. The contrast in subject is reinforced through the contrast in technical approach.
Arturo García Bustos: La imagen del México Postrevolucionario and Miguel Aragón: Fractured Memories, Assembled Trauma are on view at Mexic-Arte Museum until July 8 (I should also mention that there is a closing reception tonight from 6-9).
I don’t have label copy for all images below but I think it’s fairly obvious whose work is whose.
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