A Chain ReactionSeptember 15, 2014
GUADALAJARA — Much of the architecture in Guadalajara is characterized by its rationalism and modernism, particularly those buildings designed by Luis Barragán’s firm (1902-1988). One of the principal landmarks is the Casa Francisco Clavijero (a center for cultural events in the ITESO University community), that regularly displays exhibitions and artistic projects.
A branch of the Spanish gallery Travesía Cuatro, established a few months ago in the country, is located in a beautiful house designed by Barragán. It has acted as a platform for the city’s artists and as a bridge between the European and Latin American artistic scenes since opening a decade ago in Madrid.
Also famous for its architecture, the Cube Tower by Carme Pinós houses Curro y Poncho, another gallery that is already enjoying great international impact.
The most established, Arena México Arte Contemporáneo (AMAC), an alternative between gallery and project space, is about to open a new location designed by the prestigious studio Zeller & Moye in the same city.
One of the peculiarities of Arena México is the Ashida family’s Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos, located in the upper floor of the primary venue. Artisanal manufacture—such as the manual looms and the production of wools and inks—contrasts marvelously with the sophisticated designs of a roster of top tier artists who have experimented with the technique and have been commissioning their pieces here for years. In the image, haute-lisse tapestries in process for Damian Ortega and Gabriel Kuri.
The three most internationally renowned artists, José Dávila, Jorge Méndez Blake and Gonzalo Lebrija, have resisted the temptation of the capital and maintain their homes and studios in Guadalajara, which also helps to propel its artistic forces.
Cynthia Gutiérrez is a tapatía (toponym for Guadalajara) representative at the Berlin Biennial this year, and shares a studio with the artist Emanuel Tovar.
Laboratorio Sensorial is a non-profit space dedicated to videos, experimental film, performances and, especially, sound experimentation.
The relationship between music and art is manifested in the city through the work of Edgar Cobian, Cristian Franco and Fernando Palomar.
All of Cristian Franco’s work revolves around the irreverent fake, starting with the musical group Los Nuevos Maevans and many others he invents, using different methods to create their fictitious—or not—discographies, stages, iconographies, aesthetics and tours.
Palomar is more concerned with musical works, and is currently preparing his next opera at El Gallo de Oro, his operations center, named after a poem by Aleksandr Pushkin.
Edgar Cobian combines his musical compositions with his work as an artist, and is part of Diagonal.
Diagonal comprises a group of artists and curators (Edgar Cobian, Lorena Peña Brito, Joaquín Segura, Enrique Hernández, Carlos Maldonado, Jorge Edgar Posh) with the purpose of developing and activating the ideas of generations of younger artists.
They take advantage of moments when international cultural agents are in the city, and invite them to give workshops and conferences in exchange for, among other things, a delicious grilled octopus.
Another young initiative that demonstrates the desire to activate the city comes from TRAMA, which combines an exhibition space with the formation of audiences and artist residencies.
Neither a caricaturist nor a visual artist—in fact, very much the contrary—the cartoonist Jis, a viñetista (vignettist), was a reference for several generations for his comic strips in newspapers, and especially for the mythical comic El Santos contra la Tetona Mendoza.
The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo of Zapopán (MAZ), with director Viviana Kuri, is a leader in the country’s public programs. Currently, the exhibition Atopia: Migración, legado y ausencia de lugar (Atopia: Migration, Legacy and Lack of Place) is on display with a selection from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, with artists such as Jonathas de Andrade, Allora y Calzadilla, Pablo Nazareth and Abraham Cruzvillegas, among others.
Perhaps the evidence of production on paper is the most surprising part of Guadalajara, both on a critical and editorial level. However, Ediciones Lázaro must be mentioned, particularly for the exhibition of fanzines which they organized at the Museo de Periodismo y de las Artes Gráficas, a versatile and heterogenous museum.
Interesting limited editions by artists can be found for low prices at Albergue Transitorio, Julia and Renata Franco’s showroom.
Ex Convento, named after the former del Carmen convent, has a section on visual arts organized by Monica Ashida. She has added an exterior vitrine dedicated especially to contemporary textile art, displaying at the moment a collaborative work by Mariana and David Ampudia.
The GSARCH office is another attention-grabbing building, with a crystal façade designed by Liam Gillick.
Commissioned by José Noé Suro, an important patron in the city, it’s located in front of the famous ceramic factory (Cerámica Contemporánea Noé Suro) that’s been active since the 1950s. José Noé has taken it in a different course by supporting and working with international artists, while also taking risks with younger artists.
Among other projects, some are shown in the Sala Juárez at the Benito Café, in the old part of the city.
Some time ago, the city became an artistic epicenter—a peripheral one, but an epicenter nonetheless, regardless of the possible oxymoron—as demonstrated by one of its mandatory visits: the magnificent murals by José Clemente Orozco at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas (ICC).
Another room at the Cabañas houses the city’s first retrospective of Eduardo Sarabia’s work, one of Guadalajara’s adopted sons.
Sarabia introduces us to his personal universe through a range of media, from tapestries made in Arena México to rooms dedicated to his renowned ceramics, with Suro editions.
The exhibition opens with an installation which recalls the bar that the artist managed in Berlin.
Speaking of bars, there’s no better ending than a cold beer… Ventura beer, created by Sarabia and available in several locations in the city.