November 20, 2009 / 9:28 AM / 9 years ago

Mexican Revolution revived in Asia art exhibit

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - It’s been nearly a century since Mexico was ravaged by revolution but the social, political and religious ramifications of the conflict have been brought to life at an art exhibition thousands of miles away.

Singapore is hosting “Camino a la Modernidad: The Path to Modernity,” the largest exhibition of Mexican modern art in Southeast Asia and a unique assemblage of works usually displayed at galleries and museums at home.

Mexican Modernism is known for its vibrant colors, simple imagery and socio-political message which largely had its roots in the 1910 revolution that started out as an uprising against an autocrat and then descended into a multi-sided civil war.

The revolution is generally considered to have ended in the 1920s, and the bulk of the art produced during that period was aimed at promoting national unity and identity, said Michelle Ho, curator of the exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum.

“A lot of the art after 1910 was commissioned by the state,” she told Reuters.

“There were a lot of allegorical works that centered around civic values, ethnic tolerance, workers’ rights and also local culture and customs. All this was done in an avant-garde style.”

The exhibition features over 70 works from private and public Mexican collections and includes works by renowned artists such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Roberto Montenegro and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

It is divided into three sections: highlighting the role of the artist as an agent of social change; exalting the landscape as a hallmark of national identity and exploring abstract art; and finally, art as propaganda.

“Through the selection of artworks, we see how different artists interpreted the notions of modernity and progress, and quite significantly, their mixed results,” museum director Tan Boon Hui said in a statement.

Modernity becomes a caricature in Jose Chavez Morado’s intriguing, detailed painting “Troubled Waters” while the Catholic Church, which wielded huge political power in Mexico, is also not spared criticism.

In contrast, Mexican historical figures such as Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec king, are exalted, as are ordinary folk ranging from tribals and prostitutes to cabinet-makers.

The exhibition, which opened this week, runs until January 3, 2010.

Editing by Sugita Katyal

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