José Luis Cuevas: In drawing and sculpture / en el dibujo y la
This exhibition displays 85 works of art representing Mr. Cuevas’ artistic
production of the last three decades and provides a rich vision of his style and
most representative themes.
José Luis Cuevas (b. 1943, Mexico) is one of the most renowned and influential
living artists in Mexico. Controversial and nonconformist in character, Cuevas
made his views known in The Cactus Curtain (La Cortina del Nopal)
published in 1957, in which he fervently opposed Muralism and any other form of
institutionalized art that emerged from the Mexican School, arguing instead for
greater freedom for Mexican art. His leadership of the Generación de Ruptura
(the Rupture Generation), in the late 1950s, marked a split from the Mexican
School and the beginning of a new stage in Mexican contemporary art.
José Luis Cuevas works mainly in drawing and engraving. He is a master
draftsman. Paper was present in Cuevas’ life from the time he was a child,
having grown up on the second floor of a building that housed a paper and pencil
factory. Since 1991, he has also worked as a sculptor.
In his artwork, Cuevas represents the most obscure aspects of humans. During his
youth, he visited brothels, hospitals and mental institutions throughout the
city of Mexico in search of models for his drawings. Cuevas deforms the human
figure, creating grotesque characters through disproportion. His expressionist
style resembles the satiric portraits of José Clemente Orozco (Mexico,
1883-1949) and the engravings of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spain,
1746-1828). In presenting the desolation of humanity, Cuevas captures the most
vulnerable moments of the human being. The universality of Cuevas’ themes is
reflected in the anonymity of his characters.
At the age of 21, Cuevas presented his work in an individual exhibition at the
Pan American Union in Washington D.C. The success of this exhibit resulted in
early international recognition.
His artwork is included in important collections such as those of the Museum of
Modern Art in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in
Washington D.C. In 1992, the Mexican government supported the funding of Museo
José Luis Cuevas in Mexico City. Cuevas retrospectives have been held at the
Museum of Modern Art in Paris (1976), Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid (1998), and
at the Art Museum of the Millenium in China (2004).
Junio de 2005