DALLAS — It’s a putting self-portrait: Standing in entrance of a brightly coloured village, a younger man tilts his head and glances on the viewer from the nook of his eye. Eyebrows barely arched, he wears a defiant half smile that appears to problem and invite us on the identical time. “Self-Portrait” (Autorretrato) (1923) by Abraham Ángel was painted when the artist was solely 18 years previous, but it surely exudes a powerful sense of self-knowledge and confidence that’s nonetheless palpable 100 years after its creation.
The portray is the primary piece to greet guests in Abraham Ángel: Between Marvel and Seduction on the Dallas Museum of Artwork. Ángel, who died in 1924 at age 19, after solely three years of creative manufacturing, has been mythologized and misunderstood within the ensuing a long time. This present is a uncommon alternative to expertise the whole thing of his transient however sensible profession, comprising a mere 20 work. It is usually the primary exhibition devoted to the artist in the USA, and the primary main show of his work in additional than 35 years. Curated by Mark A. Castro, Between Marvel and Seduction strikes previous the myths to deal with the artist himself, celebrating his vibrant life and work.
Fellow Mexico Metropolis artist Diego Rivera eulogized the teenaged painter this manner: “There was nothing within the lifetime of this younger man that was not lovely, and portray was his life.” Whereas this can be true in some methods, in actuality Ángel emerged from humble and attempting circumstances. Born in 1905 within the rural city of El Oro, the artist and his 4 siblings grew up in the course of the tumult of the Mexican Revolution. After his harsh, ne’er-do-well Scottish miner father deserted the household, they moved to Mexico Metropolis in the hunt for alternative. There, Ángel shortly started a brand new life as a budding artist and beloved member of the capital’s bohemian cultural circles.
A key aspect of Ángel’s social and creative life was his queer identification. In 1921 he started a critical relationship with Manuel Rodríguez Lozano. This older Mexican artist claimed to have “found” and even “created” Ángel’s expertise, and continued to control narratives in regards to the youthful artist after his premature demise. This energy dynamic is contested in Castro’s considerate curation, which firmly facilities Ángel as a singular, visionary, and modern presence within the Mexico Metropolis artwork world. In contrast to Rodríguez Lozano, who got here from an upper-class background in Mexico and started his artwork profession in Paris, Ángel embodied a brand new kind of homegrown Mexican artist who rejected previous European traditions in favor of native influences like Mexican artwork historical past and arte fashionable.
On this means, Ángel gained the respect of friends like Rivera for embracing and serving to to outline a “new” Mexican identification that was quickly taking form after the Revolution. Work like “Portrait of Cristina Crespo” (Retrato de Cristina Crespo) (1924) succinctly illustrate the transformation. A younger, unchaperoned girl poses at evening, her hair intently cropped and her arms uncovered. Behind her, the crowded cityscape glows underneath an enormous electrical tower, its cables slicing throughout the highest of the canvas. As in his personal self-portrait, Ángel’s fashionable girl meets us with a piercing, confident stare. And “The Cadet” (El cadete) (1923), portraying a solitary younger man who seems to be cruising, celebrates Mexico Metropolis’s burgeoning queer scene, of which Ángel would have been an lively half. Every is painted in daring strokes and tangy colours that appear to convey the artist’s immersion on this vibrant and cutting-edge second.
Regardless of his early demise, the artist’s impression was not simply forgotten. In 1924, Rivera known as Ángel “the painter of Mexico Metropolis,” and in 1925, the historian Daniel Cosío Villegas proclaimed him to be “maybe the one that made probably the most Mexican work.” His exhibition in Dallas, and its accompanying catalogue — his first in English — provide extraordinary entry into his world and shouldn’t be missed.
Abraham Ángel: Between Marvel and Seduction continues on the Dallas Museum of Artwork (1717 North Harwood, Dallas, Texas) by way of January 28. The exhibition was curated by Dr. Mark A. Castro, former Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Artwork on the DMA.