CONTEMPORARY ART AND THE OAXACA BIOSPHERE
The beginning came about when I had the opportunity to visit the Helia Bravo Hollis Botanical Garden in Zapotitlán Salinas, near Tehuacán in the Mexican state of Puebla, just at the border line with Oaxaca. This place has changed my life and that is why I haven’t tired of repeating to any whom might want to listen that they should go visit as soon as possible.
Frequent visits with artist friends in tow left their mark on us all, but one that is difficult to describe. Being there was an awesome experience: a site so beautiful it takes your breath away while at the same time it inspires and moves you. This site is within the emblematic border area between the states of Puebla and Oaxaca, part of the biosphere region that in early July, 2018 UNESCO placed on its list of World Heritage mixed sites—mixed because of its natural and cultural components—under the name Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: Originary Habitat of Mesoamerica.
This magnificent place, frozen in time, has tangible and intangible wealth that encompasses far more than a vast territory of microclimates and endemic flora and fauna: there is no place like it on the planet. It bears the early memory of sedentary life with vestiges left by people who started to cultivate maize seven thousand years ago.
In all truth, I was barely aware of this patrimony when I started to visit the zone. It is also true that some of the artists in this exhibition had already been to some parts of it, sporadically, without realizing its complex biological, historical, and diverse importance. What was clear to them was the overwhelming impact of what they saw that captivated them over time. That’s how it all started. And that is why I decided to channel my enthusiasm into building a cultural project that would make this memory the artists had experienced a reality, to bear witness to the ancient wisdom of nature that was gradually revealed to all of us in the astonishment and delight of each visit.
Endemismo is a collective exhibition. It displays work by several generations of painters and photographers, living and working in Oaxaca, here and now. Thus it showcases the work of contemporary artists grappling with the problems art addresses today. It brings together work by mainstream artists working in Oaxaca, who have had successful, lengthy careers and have contributed to giving Oaxaca a place of honor as a region where a number of superb artists have emerged over the centuries.
Younger artists were also invited to visit the biosphere and share this experience through their artistic concerns, from their personal vision and using other visual languages. The project took shape and the selection process took into consideration the production of twenty painters and six photographers, men and women, who submitted from two to seven works to the curatorial selection committee, culminating in this selection now on view to the visiting public.
Each artist’s gaze is as endemic as the species that inhabit the biosphere. It couldn’t arise from any other culture than the one in Oaxaca. This diversity of expression, the desire to know more, rigor in research, and commitment to create proposals from their contemporary condition have informed the collective Endemismo.
Twenty visual artists and five photographers have joined forces to create a message disseminating the existence and promoting conservation of the nature reserve known as the Reserva de la Biósfera Tehuacán-Cuicatlán by expressing their views of the cultural, natural, and historical wealth of this magnificent, imposing area in the states of Oaxaca and Puebla.
This group effort has yielded the collective exhibition Endemismo, Arte contemporáneo y la biósfera de Oaxaca (Endemism, Contemporary art and the Oaxaca biosphere) that will open on July 21, 2018, at the Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños (MUPO).
The five suites illustrated here represent a generous contribution by the artists by making their intention to be ambassadors for this important protected natural area, patrimony of all Mexicans, a reality and by sharing their purpose with all those who wish to participate in this initiative.
Numbered edition 1/50 to 50/50 on 52 x 69 cm paper
Etchings printed by Taller de Gráfica Enrique Flores
Piezography printing by Mate Estudio Gráfico
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