A Chain Reaction

September 15, 2014

GUADALAJARA — Much of the architecture in Guadalajara is characterized by its rationalism and modernism, particularly those buildings designed by Luis Barragán’s firm (1902-1988). One of the principal landmarks is the Casa Francisco Clavijero (a center for cultural events in the ITESO University community), that regularly displays exhibitions and artistic projects.


Casa Francisco Clavijero designed by Luis Barragán

A branch of the Spanish gallery Travesía Cuatro, established a few months ago in the country, is located in a beautiful house designed by Barragán. It has acted as a platform for the city’s artists and as a bridge between the European and Latin American artistic scenes since opening a decade ago in Madrid.


Casa Franco designed by Luis Barragán in 1929, headquarters of Galería Travesía Cuatro. Right: Geovana Ibarra and Javier Aparicio

Also famous for its architecture, the Cube Tower by Carme Pinós houses Curro y Poncho, another gallery that is already enjoying great international impact.


Left: Torre Cube designed by Carme Pinós. Right: Francisco "Curro" Borrego, director of Galería Curro&Poncho

Other young galleries, like Tiro al Blanco and Diéresis, are paving their way.


Left: Interior of the Tiro al Blanco gallery. Right: Interior of Diéresis gallery

The most established, Arena México Arte Contemporáneo (AMAC), an alternative between gallery and project space, is about to open a new location designed by the prestigious studio Zeller & Moye in the same city.


Jaime Ashida in Arena México's new space, currently under renovation

One of the peculiarities of Arena México is the Ashida family’s Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos, located in the upper floor of the primary venue. Artisanal manufacture—such as the manual looms and the production of wools and inks—contrasts marvelously with the sophisticated designs of a roster of top tier artists who have experimented with the technique and have been commissioning their pieces here for years. In the image, haute-lisse tapestries in process for Damian Ortega and Gabriel Kuri.


Gobelin tapestry for Damian Ortega and Gabriel Kuri, in production.

The three most internationally renowned artists, José Dávila, Jorge Méndez Blake and Gonzalo Lebrija, have resisted the temptation of the capital and maintain their homes and studios in Guadalajara, which also helps to propel its artistic forces.


Left: José Dávila in his studio. Right: Jorge Méndez Blake in his studio. Bottom: Gonzalo Lebrija's studio

Precision and an interest in architecture are evident in the work of Luis Alfonso Villalobos and Enrique Hernández, while Javier M. Rodriguez’s minimalism questions the limits of form.


Left: Luis Alfonso Villalobos in his studio. Right: Recent work by Enrique Hernández. Bottom: Javier M. Rodríguez in his studio

Cynthia Gutiérrez is a tapatía (toponym for Guadalajara) representative  at the Berlin Biennial this year, and shares a studio with the artist Emanuel Tovar.


Cynthia Gutiérrez and Emanuel Tovar

Laboratorio Sensorial is a non-profit space dedicated to videos, experimental film, performances and, especially, sound experimentation.


Laboratorio Sensorial

The relationship between music and art is manifested in the city through the work of Edgar Cobian, Cristian Franco and Fernando Palomar.

All of Cristian Franco’s work revolves around the irreverent fake, starting with the musical group Los Nuevos Maevans and many others he invents, using different methods to create their fictitious—or not—discographies, stages, iconographies, aesthetics and tours.


Cristian Franco in his studio

Palomar is more concerned with musical works, and is currently preparing his next opera at El Gallo de Oro, his operations center, named after a poem by Aleksandr Pushkin.


From Fernando Palomar's music studio: El Gallo de Oro

Edgar Cobian combines his musical compositions with his work as an artist, and is part of Diagonal.


Edgar Cobian in his music studio

Diagonal comprises a group of artists and curators (Edgar Cobian, Lorena Peña Brito, Joaquín Segura, Enrique Hernández, Carlos Maldonado, Jorge Edgar Posh) with the purpose of developing and activating the ideas of generations of younger artists.

They take advantage of moments when international cultural agents are in the city, and invite them to give workshops and conferences in exchange for, among other things, a delicious grilled octopus.


Photo of an event organized by Diagonal

Another young initiative that demonstrates the desire to activate the city comes from TRAMA, which combines an exhibition space with the formation of audiences and artist residencies.


The team at TRAMA and their artists in residence

Neither a caricaturist nor a visual artist—in fact, very much the contrary—the cartoonist Jis, a viñetista (vignettist), was a reference for several generations for his comic strips in newspapers, and especially for the mythical comic El Santos contra la Tetona Mendoza.


JIS in his home studio

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo of Zapopán (MAZ), with director Viviana Kuri, is a leader in the country’s public programs. Currently, the exhibition Atopia: Migración, legado y ausencia de lugar (Atopia: Migration, Legacy and Lack of Place) is on display with a selection from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, with artists such as Jonathas de Andrade, Allora y Calzadilla, Pablo Nazareth and Abraham Cruzvillegas, among others.


Left: Exterior of MAZ with an installation by Mónica Bonvicini. Right: The interior with an installation by Los Carpinteros

Perhaps the evidence of production on paper is the most surprising part of Guadalajara, both on a critical and editorial level. However, Ediciones Lázaro must be mentioned, particularly for the exhibition of fanzines which they organized at the Museo de Periodismo y de las Artes Gráficas, a versatile and heterogenous museum.


Presentation given by Ediciones Lázaro

Interesting limited editions by artists can be found for low prices at Albergue Transitorio, Julia and Renata Franco’s showroom.


Albergue Transitorio

Ex Convento, named after the former del Carmen convent, has a section on visual arts organized by Monica Ashida. She has added an exterior vitrine dedicated especially to contemporary textile art, displaying at the moment a collaborative work by Mariana and David Ampudia.

The GSARCH office is another attention-grabbing building, with a crystal façade designed by Liam Gillick.


The GSARCH office

Commissioned by José Noé Suro, an important patron in the city, it’s located in front of the famous ceramic factory (Cerámica Contemporánea Noé Suro) that’s been active since the 1950s. José Noé has taken it in a different course by supporting and working with international artists, while also taking risks with younger artists.


Left: Jose Noe Suro in his famous ceramic factory Right: Work by Pedro Reyes produced in the factory

Among other projects, some are shown in the Sala Juárez at the Benito Café, in the old part of the city.

Some time ago, the city became an artistic epicenter—a peripheral one, but an epicenter nonetheless, regardless of the possible oxymoron—as demonstrated by one of its mandatory visits: the magnificent murals by José Clemente Orozco at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas (ICC).


Left and top: Murals by José Clemente Orozco in the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. Bottom: Interior patio of Cabañas with an installation by Daniel Buren

Another room at the Cabañas houses the city’s first retrospective of Eduardo Sarabia’s work, one of Guadalajara’s adopted sons.

Sarabia introduces us to his personal universe through a range of media, from tapestries made in Arena México to rooms dedicated to his renowned ceramics, with Suro editions.


Eduardo Sarabia in one of the halls of his exhibition

The exhibition opens with an installation which recalls the bar that the artist managed in Berlin.


Installation views of Eduardo Sarabia's exhibition

Speaking of bars, there’s no better ending than a cold beer… Ventura beer, created by Sarabia and available in several locations in the city.


Image of the well-known beer created by Eduardo Sarabia