Discovering Mexican Street Art in the heart of Mexico City!9 July 2019
Going to Mexico City to discover real Mexican Street Art is like looking for a needle in a haystack! The city is simply sprawling and arriving there for only a day of transit; I did not see how to make it happen. Knowing that it is better to avoid certain neighborhoods where Street Art and graffiti are kings! Once is not customary I decided to contact the Tours that organize Street Art’ visits. It’s Street Art Chilango that works with many Mexican artists who has answered me! My goal was not to see the works of international artists who are very numerous in the city; but really to discover the Mexican artists. So with Abril, a super friendly guide who does not lack anecdotes, we went on a spree in the neighborhood of Roma Norte very very early in the morning!
I am not going to give you a long history lesson on Mexican’ muralism; I’ve put together a selection of artists and works that speak for themselves.
The Both Fridas! The least accomplished work but the most sensitive!
This is the first time that CHA and Elfmilk, two local artists, are tackling a mural. The lines are somewhat coarse because they do not master the technique! What’s more, the context is a bit difficult; this painting is a tribute to rescuers who worked hard after the earthquake of September 2017. But also a monument of hope after this disaster. The name of the work is a reference to Frida Kahlo’s painting, where she had represented herself duplicate in traditional Mexican outfits. On this work the second Frida is in fact the hero of this rescue week; this labrador of the Mexican army managed in a week to locate 52 people of whom 12 were still alive; very quickly its popularity has taken an international scale on social networks. On the right of the fresco we can see fists raised! One could think of a political act; but it is not so! As soon as the rescuers arrived, the Mexicans were all on the street wanting to help get the survivors out of the rubble. Unfortunately the noise swas so important that rescuers could not hear the calls for help. It was then decided that when the rescuers raised their fists, the silence should be done. A simple and powerful gesture that has saved many lives. The center of the fresco is built like a sun that calls for rebirth! A fresco, or rather a monument, which represents a lot for the inhabitants of the neighborhood. With this first work that I presented to you, I imagine that you have already understood that Mexican Street Art is quite far from decorative Street Art!
A Mexican Street Art with strong origins and values
This gigantic interpretation of the Mexican flag by the young local artist jm.mxl represents the importance they attach to their fundamental values. Green means hope, joy and love. White: peace and honesty and red: rusticity, bravery, strength and courage. The eagle which predominates in this realization takes all its importance in the district of Roma Norte. According to legend, the lost Aztecs looking for a place to establish their city saw an eagle on a cactus eating a snake. They detected it as a sign and founded their capital, now Mexico City. The district of Roma Norte is the district that has welcomed the different indigenous tribes and its inhabitants today have build a strong collision in a very coherent neighborhood where living together is a reality and a daily force. You will also find during the visit that the indigenous tribes are more than honored in this neighborhood of Roma Norte!
Smitheone, the most graphic of Mexican artists
Smitheone is an internationally recognized Mexican artist; while walking in Roma Norte we find many of his works. He mixes in a style that is unique to him, and that contrasts with the Mexican Street Art, inspirations coming from the comics but also from these old boards of anatomies. He mixes robotics and human bodies, he deconstructs the faces and reinvents them into monsters or heroes according to the interpretation that one wants to make of them. A beautiful discovery!
Popular & ethnic art at the heart of Mexican Street Art
Chauiztle dedicates his work, using modern techniques, to Mexican folk art. We finds there systematically in background, made in stencil, the historical graphics of the indigenous peoples; patterns that are found on homes when traveling to Mexico, just as on their traditional fabrics. These symmetrical motifs come to be enhanced by a face representing a people, a region, … Even if it is not a worldwide recognized artist, his work is very touching and recognizable among all. He used to invite the communities to accompany him in the realization of his frescoes; moreover, the fresco you can see on a pink background has just been made with indigenous communities who settled in Roma Norte. This fresco is a good illustration of tradition and know-how in various fields such as weaving, doll production and violin making. A sentence adorns this fresco: ‘Life is complete when it is shared’, quote that reflects in all simplicity the philosophy of this artist.
Even the most famous Mexican artist remains attached to his traditions
Edgar Saner is undoubtedly one of the Mexican artist who has worked the most in the International; he collaborated with the French artist Seth and with small brands like Nike, to name just one! Nevertheless, he is deeply attached to Mexican iconography and the history of his country. In this fresco he gives us to see in the form of puppets oppressed peoples. And on the right of the fresco, under his scarf of Zapatista; the liberation / revolution. His references to rabbits, which were the breeding grounds of ancient peoples or to dolls, are numerous in his works. Its particularity: to hide the faces behind animal masks or dreamlike masks. And small detail that is important, his characters never have eyes; because we only see well with the heart! I am sure that if you cross one of his works you will immediately recognize his style.
But where are the vanities? Skulls and other bonderies?
You must be amazed by what you have just seen. You had to expect skulls; crucifixes, … and all this very “cliché” imagery that we have on Mexico and that we find on Mexican products for tourists … Instead, I show you the imprint of tradition! But be reassured; I could not leave you hungry! A young Mexican artist, Mauricio Groenewold is an insatiable collector of small drawings borrowed from this imagery of vanities. You will find in all Mexico City and as you can see below some should really have fun!
In conclusion: The Mexican Street Art is definitely worth it!
We often find the same famous artists in all Street Art spots around the world. Discovering another form of street art more ingrained in the past is actually a breath of fresh air. As amazing as it may seem. This district of Roma Norte is full of the history of the natives who settled there. As the Street Artist Kloerk writes, Roma is made by everyone and Roma is for everyone! And I have felt it, perhaps also thanks to the more than friendly character of Abril from Street Art Chilango (Muchisimas gracias Guapa! An abrazo). Although I am not a fan of the Street Art Tour, I must say that it was a real pleasure and Abril a wealth of information. They take a tour every Saturday and usually you have the chance to meet an artist from Mexico!
For my part, I fled to an paradisiac Island full of Street Art! If it exists! Waiting for the next article and my return to Mexico City for other discoveries; You can follow me on Instagram or walk around in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Paris or Cadaques with my Street Art escapades.
See you soon friends.
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