Mexico is a country that is associated too often with violence, cartels, drugs and corruption. But what do we know, in Europe, about Mexican contemporary art, or about Mexican art in general? Not much, except from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Contemporary Mexican art criticizes, denounces, it is engaged, and its social dimension is essential: history, the people, memory and the future. This section of our blog has the ambition to cover subjects from outside of France. Today, we feature Javier Marin.
Installation ‘Cabeza de Hombre/Cabeza de Mujer”, Museo del Carmen, Mexico (2013)
Known for his many monumental installations, Javier Marin is a Mexican sculptor and visual artist. Born in Uruapan in 1962, he studied at the San Carlos Academy and at the prestigious UNAM in Mexico, where he lives and works today. He is mostly famous for his bronze and clay sculptures, but he uses various other materials in his work (wire, resin, polyester) and he also realizes prints and drawings.
Look closely at the image below… this pieces remind you of certain ancient and renaissance artworks, don’t they? Like some pieces that you might have seen at the Louvre maybe? We discover in his work the purity of ancient sculptures, the vitality of the Renaissance, the mysteries of Michelangelo and the drama present in Rodin’s sculptures. The human being is at the center of the artist’s creation. Full of dignity and pride, his sculptures vibrate, they expose their decomposed and recomposed again bodies.
They are far from appearing as anonymous and fragile victims; on the contrary, these entangled bodies seem to resist by affirming their strength and their identity.
On the forehead, the arms and the thighs of certain sculptures, Javier Marin places inscriptions such as “desamor” or “no”. These marks in the flesh of his characters take them out of the uniform mass and start to sketch up their existence.
His work can’t be reduced to the European influence, though. They are much more complex than that, as they also take their inspiration from the Mexican culture, more precisely from the Maya and Aztec cultures. The representation of the faces brings to mind Aztec portraits. The installation “de 3 en 3” shown in La Baule and in Luxembourg in 2012 reflects this influence very clearly. On the principle of the Maya cyclical calendar, Javier Marin makes a huge contemporary reinterpretation, swarming with details.
His work position itself as a dialogue between the European artistic tradition and South American art history. For example, the installation “Caballos rojos I, II y III” evokes, as the artist says, the Spanish conquistadors landing on the Amerindian continent.
Installation “Caballos Rojos I, II y III”, Mexico (2012)
With more than 70 solo shows and 200 collective shows, in Mexico, the United States Canada and several countries in South America, Asia and Europe, Javier Marin is a front-line artist of the Mexican contemporary scene. Through his monumental installations set in public spaces, he questions the passer-byes and creates a symbolic game between them and the environment.
Installation “Tres Esculturales Monumentales”, Puebla (2013)
Installation “Seven Heads and three wings”, New York (2009)
Installation “Munequidos” , Mexico (2011)