elusive secrets: you can’t take it with you

The relationship between surrealism and art in Mexico as both intimate and contentious.The surrealist figures and their representation all seem close-knit and entirely of themselves, inhabiting a peculiar world of frozen motion and dark spaces. It is a separate world is reserved for the artist’s characters only and is denied to viewers; an element that can be termed the ‘‘otherworld,’’ a world that exists beyond earthly reality.”something hidden behind this heavy grinding which equalizes dawn and night. This something left out….”( Artaud )

maria izquierdo. La Circa. ---When analyzing Izquierdo’s circus paintings, however, a different approach to the subject is clearly evident. Like the characters featured in Picasso’s paintings, her characters are detached from the general population. Nonetheless, there is no comparable sadness or melancholy in Izquierdo’s circus paintings. Her characters, mostly female, are not isolated from each other. In her paintings are families that live and work together, in closeknit groups.---Read More:http://www.c-s-p.org/flyers/9781847186928-sample.pdf image:http://www.remediosvaro.biz/el_circo.html

These latter two qualities certainly characterize the creative collaboration between Antonin Artaud and the Mexican painter María Izquierdo during Artaud’s visit to Mexico in 1936. While Artaud’s interest in and writing on Izquierdo’s painting has barely registered within the prolific studies of his work, the interaction between the two is continually noted in contemporary accounts of Izquierdo’s career. (Geiss) Read More:http://www.surrealismcentre.ac.uk/papersofsurrealism/journal4/acrobat%20files/geispdf.pdf

---“Maria Izquierdo’s painting is a sphinx. It has been called Consolation since it was sold at auction in New York. But it gives us no consolation. The figures within it, torn from the jungle, modelled in earthy colors, discreetly attract the passerby and abruptly confront him with the sly question, ‘tell me what is going on’….. The spectator, proud of being accosted so intimately by strangers, looks closely at the image for the enigma never loosens its grip”. Maria Izquierdo Aside from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, one of the most important painters of Mexican art during the 20th century was Maria Izquierdo---Read More:http://mexicoaboomersguide.wordpress.com/

To many modern Europeans in the 1920′s and 1930′s Mexico seemed unselfconsciously surreal; often being more surreal and interesting than the modern surreal works inspired by Andre Breton’s group in Paris. What many European intellectuals perceived as a naive surrealism was in fact misunderstood since it was placed within the context of the Mexican vernacular. Mexican “surrealism” was in fact derived from a complex visual and symbolic tradition that was an amalgam of accommodated and appropriated diverse heterogeneous elements such as ancient Mexican myths, a lively tradition of folk culture and later mystical and transcendent elements in European Catholicism.

Tightrope walker 1932. ---The empty theatre gives a feeling of loneliness that these performers may feel day to day, living as they do on the fringes of society. It also gives the impression of a stage that is removed from the normal flow of time, as if the actors and acrobats exist in their own world of colour and motion. This is the element that can be called the ‘‘otherworld.’’ The ‘‘otherworld’’ functions like some invisible barrier between Izquierdo’s characters and the outside world....Read More:http://www.c-s-p.org/flyers/9781847186928-sample.pdf image:http://figurationfeminine.blogspot.com/2009/02/maria-izquierdo-1902-1955.html

What brought Artaud to Mexico was based on hos own shambling and disoriented fascination with the eclectic tradition of European occultism and Kabballah in which Western and Eastern  religious systems were sampled while he was paradoxically on an adventure to find his holy grail: the hypothetical primal purity.Artaud hoped to locate that purity within the surviving rites and rituals of pre-Columbian religion. His participation in the peyote ritual however was anchored in the tradition of European romanticism. He was the “flaneur” tourist whose engagement with the real and authentic was tempered by a distance or a fear of this “netherworld”.

---In her paintings, the women are physically powerful and proud, but always very feminine. In the painting Caballista del circo (Circus Bare-back Rider 1932), the barefoot female performer balances herself grace-fully on the horse’s back. She is dressed in her pleated costume. The arched neck and back of the horse provides the stability for the performer.---Read More:http://www.c-s-p.org/flyers/9781847186928-sample.pdf image:http://figurationfeminine.blogspot.com/2009/02/maria-izquierdo-1902-1955.html

Like Charles Baudelaire or Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he used drugs, mind altering substances, in an attempt to evade the rational mind to pass through to a mythic state of consciousness; Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Artaud simply went further by voyaging to an exotic place to partake in the drug rituals of a “primitive” people, but evidently, he could not bridge the distance or read their language and understand the profound spiritual trajectory of these Indians who were wary of his presence and his motives which were sincere but superficial in the sense it was not a long-term engagement. Almost “cash and carry” even though the experience was an “immovable” good that could not be transported to other cultural contexts.They feared he might siphon off some of the collective power the tribe was accessing through the peyote ceremony.

izquierdo. Portrait of Belem. 1928.---In 1936 Izquierdo attained international fame. She met the surrealist French poet, Antonin Artaud, who was captivated by her work. Thanks to his influence she obtained a showing in Paris. Artaud wrote in a Paris monthly review that the paintings of Maria Izquierdo were from the original Mexican soul that is without shame. "All of her paintings," he said, " are in this color of cold lava, as if in the semidarkness of a volcano." The show was an outstanding success.---Read More:http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1075-maria-izquierdo-monumento-artistico-de-la-naci%C3%B3n image:http://www.artinconnu.com/2010_09_01_archive.html

That year spent outside of Europe, when Artaud tried desperately to participate in the cultural, social, and political life of a country, determined at the same time to find once more its primitive spirit (“the one that cannot see what is, because nothing exists in reality, but which, by the brush or pen, reproduces what it supposes, and what it supposes is always in the measure of its limitless imagination”),  the primitive spirit that created the divine forms buried in the museums or the archaeological sites, whose revival he thought he had discovered in c

in young contemporary Mexican artists (in particular the painter María Izquierdo…

---His reception there as a spokesman for Europeans avant-garde theater and culture was an image he played upon an attempted to demystify in his lectures, articles and essays in favor of a theoretical model of revolutionary Mexican culture based on the metaphysics of pre-Columbian civilization. Beneath his semi-official objective of learning from “the lost soul” of ancient Mexico in order to report his findings back to Europe, Artaud admits that his goal is the harnessing of shamanistic forces of pre-Columbian sorcery to subvert European ideology and heal what he perceived to be a plague threatening the collective body and psyche.---Read More:http://www.periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/fragmentos/article/viewFile/7673/7007 image:http://www.mexconnect.com/photos/5246-sueno-seuno-y-presentimiento-1947


Read More:http://www.ciasonhar.org.br/PDFS/the_secret_art_of_Artaud.pdf

“I have heard for a long time of a sort of movement deep in Mexico in favor of a return to the civilization from before Cortez”, wrote Antonin Artaud to Jean Paulhan, editor of the Nouvelle Revue Française. In a letter dated July 19, 1935, Artaud informed Paulhan of his plan to go to
Mexico to give a series of lectures in Mexico City and study contemporary and traditional cultures. Requesting help in obtaining an official title of mission from the French government in order to line up assignments from Paris- Soir and other publications, and to open doors in Mexico, he emphasizes the journey’s personal meaning: “I find myself at an important crossroads of my existence”. He explains that he hopes to encounter in Mexico a revolutionary society built on ancient metaphysical foundations where he may apply his vision of healing the split between psyche and civilization through alchemical theater….

Hertz:The rite is performed for Artaud. He sees the priests with their wooden staffs and the peyote dancer wearing hundreds of miniature bells. At this point begins his obsession with the staff used by the Tarahumara sorcerers in the ceremony. He wonders what it is the Peyote Master tells them during the three-year initiation in the forest when they learn the secret of the staff. Artaud collapses from fatigue. The dance is performed over and around him. In a state of dissociation, he becomes a “man of stone who requires two men to get him mounted on his horse” when the ritual ends at dawn. His body resists returning to civilization after what he has witnessed, “to bring back a collection of worn-out images which the era, faithful to its system, will take for more ideas for advertisements and models for clothing designers”. Read More:http://www.periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/fragmentos/article/viewFile/7673/7007 image:http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/izquierdo.php

In letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Education, Artaud describes his mission as seeking in Mexico “a perfect example
of primitive civilization with a spirit of magic”. He proposes to interview “healers and sorcerers on lost plateaux”. Even before setting foot on
Mexican soil, Artaud’s exoticism reaches a fever pitch in anticipation: “Are there still forests which speak and where the sorcerer with burnt fibers of Peyote and Marijuana still finds the terrible old man who teaches him the secrets of divination?” ( Uri Hertz ) Read More:http://www.periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/fragmentos/article/viewFile/7673/7007

There was a lot of intoxication in Mexico, and much sorcery, because this was Mexico, a land of myth, where teenagers are sacrificed, and men are turned into coyotes, and black magic is the spectacle. William S. Burroughs looked for and found similar things there. Artaud wasn’t in Mexico long, just a few months, in part because it was not populated by theatrical adepts, but, in the countryside, by indigenous people trying to scrape by.Read More:http://www.believermag.com/issues/200906/?read=article_moody


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