The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents, from June 25 to October 10, 2016, Tamayo: A Solitary Mexican Modernist, an exhibition that celebrates the work of Rufino Tamayo, whose paintings, prints and sculptures brought international attention to 20th-century Mexican art. This is the first solo-exhibition dedicated to the artist ever presented in Canada.
Rufino Tamayo, The Great Galaxy (detail), 1978, oil on canvas. Collection Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo / INBA / Mexico. © D.R. Rufino Tamayo/Herederos/ México/2015/Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C / SODRAC (2016)
Tamayo is one of Mexico's most significant modernist artists, recognized for having achieved his own individual style despite the domination of his contemporaries, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, who were uncompromising in their allegiance to the social and political ideals that formed the basis of Mexico’s post-revolutionary art. Younger than they by ten years, Tamayo, looked to the future and the modern world, as well as finding inspiration in Mexico’s past traditions.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of Tamayo's death, the exhibition presents 18 paintings plus a series of 12 lithographs on loan from various Mexican institutions and one work from the National Gallery’s Collection, together covering roughly 60 years of the painter’s artistic production. Marisol Argüelles, deputy director at Mexico’s Museum of Modern Art, is the curator of the exhibition, with the support of Erika Dolphin, Associate Curator to the Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Canada.
The National Gallery of Canada thanks the following institutions who made the presentation of Tamayo: A Solitary Mexican Modernist possible: the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, the Secretaría de Cultura, AMEXCID, and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes of Mexico as well as the Museo de Arte Moderno, the Museo Nacional de Arte, and the Museo Tamayo.
“Mexican modernist art holds an important place in the vanguard movements of the twentieth century and will be of great interest to Canadians,” said the National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO Marc Mayer. “We are pleased to present this exhibition, a fine introduction to the outstanding work of Rufino Tamayo, to coincide with the North American Leaders’ Summit being held at the Gallery on June 29.”
“One of Mexico’s foremost modernist painters, Rufino Tamayo drew inspiration from Pre-Columbian art forms and our country’s rich history and popular art. His first solo-exhibition in Canada, to be held at the National Gallery on the 25th anniversary of his death, is a celebration of Mexican-Canadian cultural ties,” commented the Mexican Ambassador to Canada, his Excellency Agustín García-López.
To celebrate the exhibition of Tamayo works at the National Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada Foundation will host a special reception at the Gallery on Friday, June 24.
Foundation Chair, Thomas d’Aquino, said, “We are honoured to receive the works of this Mexican master on the eve of the State Visit to Canada of the President of Mexico and in advance of the historic North American Leaders’ Summit which will be proudly hosted at the National Gallery of Canada.”
About Rufino Tamayo (August 25, 1899 – June 24, 1991)
Born in Oaxaca, Tamayo was orphaned at age twelve. Under the guardianship of his aunt, he moved to Mexico City and secretly attended night classes in drawing. The environment of his early years would be a recurring motif throughout his work. Although his art reveals many aesthetic pursuits, one in particular stands out above all: a sense of freedom that allowed him – unlike artists of previous generations – to incorporate a set of formal codes from folk art and pre-Columbian Mexican mythology such as the use of colour and monumental forms. These coexisted in his work with the vocabulary of international art, confirming early on his universal vision of art.
Today Rufino Tamayo's work appears in many public and private collections around the world. He created the mural entitled Fraternity (1968), which was donated by Mexico to the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 1971. As part of Mexico’s artistic heritage, the National Institute of Fine Arts has an unrivaled collection of Tamayo’s work, mainly on deposit at the Museum of Modern Art. The personal collection belonging to the artist and his wife, which emphasizes paintings and sculpture from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Asia from 1945 to 1975, formed the foundation of the Rufino Tamayo Museum of International Contemporary Art, founded in 1981.