Artists > Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Toledo
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Native America meets Europe in Mexico

University of Toronto professor of psychology, author and passionate art collector Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, for the third time, exhibits yet another series of paintings from his extensive private collection.

Exhibition background:

Mexico has a rich artistic heritage, drawn from the highly developed and millennia-old native American traditions and hundreds of years of later European influence. The Olmecs developed accurate calendars, hieroglyphic writing, painting, the monumental sculptures of the Olmec heads, sophisticated jade carving, stone buildings and carvings and complex ceramics. Their cultural work, primarily religious in purpose, laid the base for the development of the later, equally advanced cultures of the Oaxacan Zapotecs, the Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City, and the Mayas in southern Mexico. These native American styles and technologies were superseded by the art forms of the Spanish Catholics, under whom the Baroque style flourished, from the 16th to the late 18th centuries.

In the twentieth century, the emergence of radical socialism profoundly affected Mexican art, as the government commissioned murals for its public buildings to promote its ideological messages. In some sense, this paralleled the development of Socialist Realist art in the USSR. Indeed, some of the greatest Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera (as well as his partner, Frieda Kahlo), were great admirers of the Russian communists, befriending Leon Trotsky after he was exiled from the Soviet Union, although both were also deeply influenced by the native traditions.

Some Featured Artists' Biographies:

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), another highly gifted Mexican artist, was a Zapotec, and drew deeply from his native heritage, although he was also influenced by Impressionism, Cubism and Fauvism. He rejected the union of art and propaganda that was promoted so strongly by his politically-minded muralist compatriots, preferring to express what he regarded as genuine Mexican artistic culture. This did not make him popular in Mexico, so he moved to New York City in 1926.

His paintings are extremely well regarded, and highly valued. His painting Troubador sold for $7.2 million US in New York in 2008, the highest price ever reached at that time for a Mexican work of art. However, he reached the pinnacle of his artistic career as a printmaker, experimenting with lithography, wood cut, etching and what came to be known as Mixografia prints, which Tamayo invented in the early 1970s, with the help of Mexican engineer and painter Luis Remba. To produce a Mixograph, the artist first produces a cast copper printing plate from any combination of materials that can be incised, carved, or given texture by a collage. That plate is then inked with the desired colors, and moist paper pulp is laid on the surface. Both the plate and that pulp are then forced through a press, under extreme pressure, which forms the paper sheet and the relief-like depth of the colored print, while forcing the ink deep into the resulting paper. Every new print requires a complete re-inking of the plate, and the laying down of new pulp. Each mixograph is very thick and rigid, frequently of large size, and utterly unique in its colouring and its surface texture. Tamayo also generally hand-modified each print surface, with chalk and pencil, after the printing was complete.

Francisco Toledo (1940), like Rufino Tamayo, is a Mexican graphic artist and a Zapotec. His somewhat surreal images often a strange combination of insectoid and amphibian life forms and eroticism, presented in a manner that has the mythic force of the best literature for children. He currently works in Oaxaca, producing drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, and weavings, as well as works of ostrich shell, polychromed wax, bone, tortoise shells and bone. He makes kites, from hand-made paper, in the hills in San Augustin Etla.