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November 23, 2009

Mexican Art Exhibition at Singapore Art Museum

Mexican Art Exhibition at Singapore Art Museum

My family members and I were looking for weekend places in Singapore to see when we withered down the choices to a handful. The Singapore Art Museum *surprise* finally came out tops in the family vote. This was due in no small part to the heavy thunderstorms in recent weeks that ruled out outdoor areas. Other indoor museum venues like the National Museum were out-voted as one or another family member had already made earlier trips.

We checked out the exhibition: Camino a la Modernidad, The Path to Modernity: Mexican Modern Painting not because it "traced the major developments in Mexican art from the 1900s to the 1950s, where Mexican society underwent tremendous changes in social and political spheres that impacted much of its artistic expression."

We were also not too aware about how the "Mexican Revolution (1910) laid the foundation for a new artistic movement, Mexican Mural Renaissance, which attempted to bridge the class divide in the construction of a national identity and aesthetic, through bringing art to the masses in the form of highly accessible, outdoor public art murals."

Our tour strategy was simple: start with the newest exhibits, followed by the next most recent... until we either covered every square metre of the museum or when any one of us felt disinclined to continue any more.

There were over 70 works from important Mexican public and private collections, including works by renowned mural artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Roberto Montenegro, Rufino Tamayo, Maria Izquierdo and Frida Kahlo. All those unfamiliar names laid bare my ignorance of Mexican art.

The wonderful thing about looking at art works is that there is no one perfect way to interpret what the artist has painted, and the intention behind every stroke of paint. We could discuss what we saw with our untrained eyes and still stay happy with our own interpretations. Some paintings attracted us with their pleasing subject matters, while a few were harsh on the eyes (and mind). 

One game we liked to play at exhibitions was for each of us to choose one or two favourite paintings and to compare notes later to see if we shared the same views and thoughts. My selection of the following Mexican Art Exhibition works are presented below.

Mexican Art Exhibition Photo 1:

I thought this face stood out for its convincing life-like, life-sized, musculine features. The collared attire framed his face very well too. It was to my surprise when I read the accompanying notes that this was Frida Kahlo's self protrait, her Self-Portrait with Medallion, that was done in oil/ masonite in the year 1948. 

Mexican Art Exhibition Photo2:

This face frozen in mid scream was another Mexican painting at the Mexican Art Exhibition that intrigued me. More deformed and less contorted than the other famous expressionist painting by Edvard Munch. Dark mood with an attitude. You either love it or hate it.

Mexican Art Exhibition Photo3:

In Diego Rivera's Night Landscape, first glance of the painting reveals a tree crowded with country people observing an event at night. As I stared a little longer, the tree seemed to transform into a hand with spindly fingers as its branches, as if an evil hand had these poor souls in its grasp. It was only days later after reviewing my photographic image that a word appeared. Can you make out that word in this painting?  

Catch these intriguing art works and many more at the Camino a la Modernidad, The Path to Modernity: Mexican Modern Painting at the Singapore Art Museum. The exhibition runs from 15 November 2009 to 3 January 2010 in Singapore.

Visit Singapore Art Museum website for details.

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Anonymous said...

hmm.. just wanna know if this is free admission or gotta pay? :)

STST said...

Free admission on Friday nights from 6pm to 9pm. Fees apply at other times and days.

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