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Mexpert's Blog

Travel news and information on Mexico from Mexico.

Category Archives: Art & Culture

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There’s never been a better time to visit China … in Mexico. As part of the Year of China-Latin America Cultural Exchange, several great exhibits are showcasing Chinese contemporary art, as well as prized folk art and ancient artifacts.

· “Masterpieces from the National Art Museum of China” at Mexico City’s San Ildefonso Museum: A charismatic statue of Confucius greets visitors at the entrance to this exhibit, which features enchanting shadow puppets, Tibetan death masks and splashy ink wash paintings.

· “The Memory of Hands: The Splendor and Color of Guizhou’s Heritage” at Mexico City’s National Museum of Cultures: Guizhou province is home to nearly 20 of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, including the Miao, famed for their rococo silver creations.

· “Memories of the Oracle Bone Inscriptions,” at Acapulco’s San Diego Fort Museum, displays the mysterious millenary origins of China’s complex writing system.

Enter El Dragon

Mexico City’s leading tour bus operator, Turibus, launched a special China-themed tourism route on Nov. 9 called “The China Experience,” which combines guided visits of “Masterpieces” and “Memory” with lunch at one of the capital’s leading Chinese restaurants, El Dragon.

Known for its Peking duck roasted in a wood-burning oven, El Dragon has put together a special tasting menu of classic favorites for you to tuck into after working up an appetite at the museums.

The China Experience is available every Wednesday starting at 10 am, with the first pick up at the Auditorio Nacional stop. Don’t miss it.

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Tornaviaje, or Return Voyage, a Mexico City exhibit, spotlights China’s artistic influence on the New World through trade.

The Manila Galleon, better known in Spanish as the Nao de China, regularly plied the Pacific, bringing Chinese silks, spices and lots of other goodies from the Orient to Mexico’s Pacific coast port of Acapulco. Some of it would then be shipped overland to Veracruz, on the Gulf Coast, and loaded onto ships bound for Europe.

The artistic fusion between the Far East and the New World is clear in many of the pieces on show, which were mainly made by Chinese artisans to suit European tastes, including elaborately decorated leather and wooden chests, embroidered silk shawls, carved ivory statues and ceramics.

Argh! Apparently the eyepatch wasn’t the only accessory in the pirate’s wardrobe. The scary metal mask below was reportedly worn by the infamous Dutch pirate Lorencillo, who had a long and lucrative career sacking Acapulco, Veracruz, Campeche and other Mexican ports.

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Tornaviaje: The Nao de China and the Baroque in Mexico
Franz Mayer Museum
Through Oct. 30

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teacupSay “I hear you” with this unique tea set by ceramist Oscar Vazquez Alanis, part of the 6th Biennial of Utilitarian Ceramics at Mexico City’s Franz Mayer Museum. There’s lots more on show and it’s just as amusing, including candlesticks with a plumbing theme and a lamp that lights up a forest. In all, 89 pieces by 70 artists from 12 Mexican states.

The museum is also hosting the 1st Biennial of Silver Design, featuring 80 creations, some award winners.

Ceramics exhibit on through Jan. 12, silver biennial, until Jan. 19.

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Standing tall: this six-foot pair of feet served as a column base in pre-Hispanic Mexico

Children of the Plumed Serpent, a major exhibit of pre-Hispanic artifacts, opened this week in Los Angeles. More than five centuries old, the 200 pieces on show are on loan from collections around the world, including the UK, Austria, Canada, Germany, the US and Mexico.

Among the prized works are the Nutall Codice, which may have been among the first batch of gifts Hernan Cortez shipped to Spain’s King Carlos V in the 16th century as proof of the marvels of the New World; it was borrowed from London’s British Museum. Another featured relic is also the show’s largest: a six-foot-tall (1.8 meters) column base in the shape of the feet of an Atlante, or giant; borrowed from the museum at Tula, in central Mexico.

Made of jade, turquoise, gold, seashells, pearls and other materials, these objects depict the way various cultures in Mexico, including the Maya, Toltec, Zapotec, Mixtec and Nahua, venerated the Plumed Serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. The show will travel to Dallas before arriving in Mexico towards the end of 2012.

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Painter Johan Falkman

Many of us are inclined to think that, with the advent of photography, the art of portrait painting has gone the way of the dodo bird. Not so, proves Swedish painter Johan Falkman, whose newly inaugurated one-man show at Mexico City’s San Ildefonso museum features more than 90 of his “psychological portraits.”

Touted for reinventing the genre through his expressionist style, Falkman says his greatest inspiration has been Mexico’s muralists, including Siqueiros, Orozco and O’Gorman. Their influence is evident in his group and individual studies in oil featuring bold strokes, highly textured surfaces and vibrant colors more typical of tropical Mexico than northern Sweden, where artists tend to use more muted shades, says exhibit curator Leticia Lopez Orozco.

Falkman’s subjects are other Swedes, from well-known doctors to actors to members of the royal family, and occasionally himself. “All of the characters I have painted in this exhibition are experts at playing their roles,” says the artist, which is one reason he selected them. Are his subjects generally happy with the end result? “Some are quite happy, but there have also been people who have been completely destroyed by it,” he admits with a laugh. “Some people have been very shocked by my depiction of them, probably because I have focused on an aspect of their personality they were not aware of.”

Falkman talks with art critic Robert C. Morgan about his career and artistic process Saturday, March 24, at 1pm (in English, with simultaneous translation). Also, art students and teachers are invited to watch the artist at work, from Tuesday, March 27, to Thursday, March 29, 10 am to 1 pm; reservations required by calling 5789 2505 or emailing pedagogicos@sanildefonso.org.mx.

  • Johan Falkman, La alteridad en el espejo
  • Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso
  • Justo Sierra 16, Centro Historico
  • Until July 15, 2012

 

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The discovery of the New World implied the discovery of a new world of no-no’s, a recently inaugurated exhibit of religious art shows. Transgression and Temptation in New Spain, now showing at Tepotzotlan’s National Viceregal Museum near Mexico City, illustrates the array of sins, peccadilloes and offenses that preoccupied the clergy and ruling classes in colonial-era Mexico, including some that were never an issue before, such as indulging in too much chocolate or pulque, two staples of the pre-Hispanic diet that were unknown in Europe. Both were believed to boost your energy levels, but also your libido if taken in excess, so prohibitions soon followed. This novel exhibit brings together artwork from major collections, including Mexico City’s Franz Mayer Museum and the Guadalupe Museum of Zacatecas, as well as major artists from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The 74 pieces on show, ranging from oil paintings to banned books, are grouped into four themes, including the struggle between good and evil and the road to salvation.

  • El pecado y las tentaciones en la Nueva España
  • Museo Nacional del Virreinato
  • Plaza Hidalgo 99, Tepotzotlan, Estado de Mexico
  • Until April 29, 2012

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On January 6, three South American passengers land at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport only to get sucked into a bureaucratic black hole generated by baffling immigration procedures and the bungling or corrupt officials handling them. That’s the premise of the play “Juarez 6.01,” a hilarious and hard-hitting political farce in which nothing is clear and no one is innocent, including the alleged offenders, each of whose motives for being in Mexico is murkier than the next.

“Nobody comes off looking good in this play,” says director Ernesto Alvarez, an Uruguayan who has lived in Mexico for the past 15 years. “Deceit is a constant theme throughout the story, but it also touches on the Latin American exodus, fleeing the dictatorships, searching for better opportunities abroad, the expatriate experience.”

Written by Mexican actor-director Eduardo Castañeda, “Juarez” features well-known Argentinean-born actor Juan Carlos Colombo, who has lived in Mexico since 1975 and appeared in the groundbreaking 2003 film “La Ley de Herodes” (released in the U.S. as “Herod’s Law”). The play stars Juan Carlos Medellin as an affable yet rotten-to-the-core immigration agent eager to profit from the misfortune of others.

  • Juarez 6.01, El respeto al derecho me es ajeno
  • Teatro Casa de la Paz, Cozumel 33, Colonia Roma
  • T. 5286 5315; tdelapaz@correo.uam.mx
  • Until April 15: Thursday/Friday at 8 pm, Saturday/Sunday at 6 pm
  • General admission: 150 pesos

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