“How can you be an artist and not reflect the times? That to me is an artist.”
Many words Nina Simone spoke might as well be adapted as law. The above quote is one of her many mic-drop moments. When I think of artists that have executed this notion brilliantly, a few that come to mind are Spike Lee, Alice Walker and Eyrkah Badu. They entertain, enlighten and influence. Those are the artists whose work transcends time. This week, I had the pleasure of previewing an exhibit by Mexican artists with the same wokeness, entitled Paint the Revolution.
The overarching theme of Mexican Modernism was using the power of visuals to destroy bourgeois individualism. Narrate the struggles of the people. Don’t just glorify the upper class. The movement started in 1910, on the heels of the 35-year regime of President Porfirio Diáz. When you add government repression and economic hardship, the sum will likely be rebellion. This rebellion gave reason for artists like Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, Germán Cueto, María Izquierdo and soooo many others to create renaissance art. 1910 to 1950 was an era chockfull of ‘mexicanidad’, a crafty mix of Mexican consciousness and Mexican pride.
Paint the Revolution is a snapshot of the movement. It was brought to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from the Fine Arts Museum in Mexico City. It will be there from October 25, 2016 – January 8, 2017. With many socialist ideals, Sanders supporters would feel the Bern. When you visit, you’ll see that many of the themes relate to our current social and political climate. One painting even looked like a scene from Solange’s “Cranes In the Sky” video! If you’re a woke, art-lover, lover, you’ll find your home there.