Mexico in San Francisco: Works on Paper from Diego Rivera to Alejandro Santiago
As a Mexican art enthusiast, walking into this show at the Mexican Museum was absolutely overwhelming. I felt each piece on the wall drawing me in.
This small Museum in San Francisco’s Fort Mason is comprised of three small showrooms, creating an intimate atmosphere, vastly different from the grand but often cold environments of larger, modern museum spaces.
The first room features works by Miguel Covarrubias, Rosa Rolanda, Alejandro Santiago, Diego Rivera, and Rafael Coronel. The central wall in this room features two large works side by side, one by Alejandro Santiago and one by Rafael Coronel. The colors compliment each other brilliantly, the soft purple of the cochineal on amate paper by Santiago, sitting next to the etherial, pastel-blue work by Coronel. The other two walls are flanked with smaller works by other Mexican legends, including a fantastic watercolor depicting a Mexican style cantina placed in a roaming hillside by Diego Rivera.
A vibrant red and blue portrait depicting a Mexican revolutionary soldier by Ramos Martinez had me buzzing as it pulled me out of the first room and into the main showroom. This room features works by Rufino Tamayo, Gunther Gerzso, Carlos Merida, and Jose Clemente Orozco. After been drawn into the room by the portrait, I turned around to see another wonderful watercolor by Diego Rivera, depicting a dream like forest scene of morphing colors comprised of pastel blues, yellows, and greens with a mysterious man dressed in white and beige standing in front of two traveling women. On the wall opposite the Rivera are two works on paper paintings by Rufino Tamayo, comprised of rich, earth tone colors, one is titled “Boatman” and the other, “Two Women Bathing.”
Other walls in the main showroom display two paintings by Carlos Merida (one abstract and one early figurative work), a large, colorful, abstract mixograph by Gunther Gerzso, a brilliantly surreal watercolor by Francisco Toledo, and another fantastic portrait by Ramos Martinez.
The third and final room in the back of the museum is comprised of mono-chromatic pieces by Alejandro Santiago, Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Jose Luis Cuevas. The first wall you see as you walk into this room is decorated with three bold, black and white lithographs by Diego Rivera: “Boy with Taco,” “Sleeping Children,” and one of Rivera’s most iconic images, “Zapata with a White Horse.”
Across from the Rivera wall hangs three beautiful, India ink on paper paintings by Jose Clemente Orozco, depicting portraits of women created with simple, elegant brush strokes. On one adjacent wall stands a larger than life mixed media on amate, oil painting by Alejandro Santiago, which compliments the powerful black and white linoleum cut by Leopoldo Mendez to its side. The opposite wall features three stunning black and white paintings by the recently deceased Mexican Master, Jose Luis Cuevas.