Friday, March 21, 2003

"If violence respects no borders, neither should the culture that protests it."Jose Clemente Orozco 

Mexican painter Jose Clemente Orozco expressed both the fire and passion for revolution, and the horror that war of any kind can bring. In an article in In These Times, Christopher Capazzolla explores the relationship between revolution and destruction in Orozco's paintings:

"In New York, Orozco frequented vaudeville shows and Harlem nightclubs and joined in the discussions of the artists and bohemians who gathered at The Ashram, a salon held in a fashionable Manhattan apartment. Here, Orozco explored Eastern philosophies and comparative mythology, an interest that found its outlet in Prometheus. In the mural, the Greek god dominates a fiery landscape; but looking at the suffering mortals below, it’s not clear whether Prometheus’ gift is the cure or the cause of their anguish."

Orozco's development of identity continues:

"In the United States, Orozco also fashioned an identity that incorporated both Mexican and American aspects. The first time Orozco crossed the border, at Laredo, Texas, in 1917, his art did not make it with him: A U.S. border guard seized nearly 60 of his drawings as “obscene,” in what Orozco later laughed off as “an official showing.” In the more metaphorical sense, though, Orozco’s work crossed borders easily. One of the most striking images from the Mexico in Revolution series was The Hanged Man (1926), a stark drawing of a revolutionary execution. The image first appeared as an illustration in The Underdogs, a revolutionary novel by Mariano Azuela composed in El Paso, Texas, in 1915. Orozco exhibited the drawing in 1935 in exhibitions protesting lynching in the southern states. If violence respects no borders, he suggested, neither should the culture that protests it."