National Museum of Art offers pictorial banquet of Mexican gastronomy

This content was published on May 13, 2022 – 16:09

Monica Rubalcava

Mexico City, May 13 (EFE).- Colors, flavors and textures enhance Mexican gastronomy in the exhibition “Feast of flavors. Mexican banquet” of the National Museum of Art (Munal) of Mexico City, where pictorial and sculptural work is brought together that marks a precedent in the study of artistic work dedicated to national food.

“There are no art history books (about food) in Mexico, here you can see José Clemente Orozco’s marvelous ‘Las coles’ only if you look at it, or if you go to a cookbook, but aesthetically it has been talked about the paintings that have been produced (in the country) on food are not”, says the curator of the exhibition Estela Duarte in an interview with Efe.

Under this concern, the exhibition that Duarte considers a “megaproject” proposes a first aesthetic approach to something as everyday as food, but the work was quite a challenge and he confesses that the responsibility of orchestrating it felt like “loading the Aztec Calendar” .

“Feast of flavors. Mexican Banquet” is made up of almost 300 pieces from at least 70 private and institutional collections where artists -mostly Mexican- reproduce, reinterpret and reimagine the country’s gastronomy, which since 2010 was named Intangible Cultural Heritage by the Organization United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Organized into six thematic nuclei, the exhibition explores themes such as the history of food, the cultivation of food and its commercialization in markets, kitchens and the intimacy of cupboards, still lifes with various traditional dishes, sweets and Mexican crafts, the encounter that this causes and without a chronological order explores gastronomy from pre-Hispanic times, to the present day with fast and industrially processed food.

“This is an easy, bearable topic that you don’t need to know about art history or be a specialist to understand. (…) It is inherent to us, it is what we eat, it is our customs, from going to the market, to eating pizza, it is a subject that we needed”, says Duarte convinced.

MAKING DIVERSITY VISIBILIZE

From Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Chávez Morado to Telésforo Herrera, Elena Clement or Humberto Limón, the exhibition shines for the diversity of plastic artists and pieces that inhabit it, thus creating interesting dialogues between very popular personalities with the less well-known as between the different historical periods, styles and currents of each painter.

“The important thing was to give a place to many artists who have been asleep, who have not turned around to see, Luis Sahagún, Alfonso X. Peña with the markets, Marysole Wörner Baz with that box of breads, because there are new names, new picture. (…) This exhibition is fresh in theme, new in work and innovation”, Estela deepens.

On the tour, attendees can also find photographs of historical moments such as dinners attended by important personalities in Mexican politics such as former President Francisco I. Madero (1911-1913), or meetings of intellectuals such as the painter Dr. Atl along with the writer Carlos Pellicer, Susana and Fernando Gamboa, Jorge Enciso and Roberto Montenegro, to name a few.

And among the curious documentary archives there are also some historical banquet menus offered by former presidents such as Benito Juárez or Porfirio Díaz, or less institutional ones such as the one humorously designed by José Chávez Morado for a dinner offered to the politician and collector Marte R. Gómez.

With this exhibition, Estela reiterates that Mexico is a country that has made great contributions to the world in matters of art.

“The day that popular art ends, the soul of Mexico ends, popular art is its soul, it is the plastic expression of everything,” concludes the curator. EFE

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