In addition to Mexico City, Guadalajara was another city visited by the participants of de Appel Curatorial Programme 2015/16. In this city we spent two days and one night, from 3rd until 4th of November. As a small town, Guadalajara offers a calmer and quiet atmosphere compared to the capital city of Mexico. Our flight from Mexico City arrived in Guadalajara in the morning.
The trip started at noon to visit the studio of artists Jorge Mendez Blake. Jorge graduated from the architecture and changed his profession to become an artist. His work is an extension between architecture and literature, and also the notion of library. That afternoon we saw some people working in his studio. Two of the artisans were completing two separate drawings. Another one was working at the computer. The drawings were dominated by images of book, related to his last work with the theme of the book and the library. Although not explained in more detail about his latest project, Jorge told us that his work would be shown in one of the Art Fair in Miami later this year.
After visited Jorge’s studio, we supposed to have a studio visit with Jose Davila. Our schedule a little bit changed since Jose moved it to the second day of schedule. Finally, Gonzalo Lebrija became the second artist we visited on our first day in Guadalajara. Initially, our visit to the studio Gonzalo was not planned. After Jorge Mendez Blake knew that Jose Davila could not meet us that day, he recommended and directly connected us to Gonzalo.
Therefore, our last visit of the day is to Museo de Arte Zapopan (MAZ). There are two exhibitions that were held at that time. On the ground floor, Jirí Kovanda held an exhibition “Sabana Blanca”, featuring the works of the installation entitled “White Blanket” (2010). This work comes with seven works of him that others are “Untitled” (2008), “One Round Tavle” (2008), “Untitled” (2008), “Two Cushions” (2008), “Kissing Through Glass” (2009), “Couple” (2010) and “Fence” (2008).
Moved to the second floor, there was an exhibition “Estudio abierto 6: 473.85 kg” by LA FAVORITA Colectivo consisting of Zazil Barba, Alberto López and Álvaro Corcuera Ugarte. The project commissioned for this exhibition features a surface layer of sand, on the gallery floor, that covers an indefinite number of Mexican coins with a ten-centavo face value. Visitors were invited to move across the installation as well as explore and interact with it. MAZ was the last location on the first day of our visit in Guadalajara.
The second day was started with a visit to the studio of Cynthia Gutierrez located in Tlaquepaque, which is located in the northern part of Guadalajara. Cynthia shared studio space with her father and her husband, who are also an artist. She has an educational background as a sculptor at the University of Guadalajara, and this fact is evident in her studio. Some sculptures in the process are shown in her studio, in various sizes. One of her main topic was her work on the story of a chicken without a head that was able to live for a few months.
We returned to the center of the city to met Francisco Ugarte in his studio. Francisco Ugarte’s work is based on the grounds of architecture, mainly during the creative process: the proposal is generated from a deep focus in the environment and it is a response to it. Using a variety of media Including site-specific interventions, video, installation, sculpture and drawing, his work can be understood as a phenomenological exercise in which comprehends reality through contemplation, perception and the essence of things. Francisco specifically described the experiments that he was doing through drawing lines as the focus in the work. In addition, some works are based on the book he reads.
Guadalajara has a Barragan House, a space created to honour Luis Ramiro Barragan Morfin, a leading figure among Mexican architects. There is a Barragan House also in Mexico City, but unfortunately it was closed when we tried to visit. In Guadalajara, Barragan House building is dominated by the yellow colour. Visitors are not allowed to photograph the contents inside the building, which contains pieces of cutting sticker from a series of words on each side of the wall. Unfortunately I could not understand at all the cutting stickers that contain writing in Spanish language.
Jose Davila was the last artist that we visited in Guadalajara. When we were there, his studio was under construction, so some parts were still closed. In the first room, there are several works of Jose with a medium glass, stone and bonding string buffer. In the second space, his works were well arranged one by one. Right beside that space, we can see a series of paper works with a cut in the face of political figures. We continued our trip to the studio on the second and third floor, we had a conversation and he shown some books about his works.
After we met the artists in Guadalajara, one of the recommendations were repeatedly said was to be visit the Hospicio Cabañas. Therefore, in the remaining time, we took time to go there after a visit to the studio Jose Davila. This place is a former orphanage that is now used as a place of cultural activities, and has been determined to be one of the world cultural heritages by UNESCO in 1997. The reason many people recommend us to go here is that the murals by José Clemente Orozco, Including one of his most famous creations, the allegory of Man of Fire (1936-39). Orozco is known as one of the “Big Three” muralists along with Diego Rivera and David Alvaro Siqueiros. In addition to the work of Orozco, the most memorable thing in this building was that we get a tremendous tour guide. He was explaining in detail every space that we visited and giving us tips on how to take pictures with responding poses to some parts of the building Hospicio Cabañas.
That was our last day in Guadalajara. In the evening we had to go back to Mexico City. We agreed that our time in Guadalajara was too short. For some people like me, Guadalajara reminds me of my hometown, a quiet and small town in Indonesia. Artists in Guadalajara have a different character compared to the artists in Mexico City. Every artist that we visit has a relatively larger studio than artists in Mexico City. They have close relationship between the one and the other, because the arts community here is definitely smaller than Mexico City.
Guadalajara, November 2015.