From time to time, curators at the University of Guadalajara’s centerpiece museum, the Museo de Las Artes or MUSA, undertake exhibits highlighting its crown jewels:
the fresco murals by Jose Clemente Orozco, done between 1935 and 1937, which adorn the dome and wall behind the podium of its auditorium, known as the Paraninfo, located in midtown Guadalajara at Juarez and Enrique Diaz de Leon.
They are at it again, with a new group of video creations, entitled “Orozco Metafisico,” (metaphysical Orozco), which can be enjoyed in a small room on the building’s second floor (adding the attractive necessity of ascending the Art Deco staircase that graces the entrance).
But before going upstairs, take a look – or another look – at the two murals themselves, which are always open to the public during museum hours, except on the rare occasion of a conference in the Paraninfo. There are usually a few people reclining in the comfortable auditorium chairs and gazing at the murals; sometimes even students making notes or drawing. You can also view the Paraninfo by entering through second-floor doors on your way to the video exhibition.
The use of “metafisico” in the exhibition’s title may be a stretch, implying the supernatural. In a sense, of course, all art is based on intangibles – concepts that go far beyond the mere materials and techniques used. In fact, many artists, especially those who depict “real life,” love to speak about LEARNING TO SEE, as if their brand of vision is something over and above what normally happens in your eyes and brain.
Orozco, according to Laura Ayala, coordinator of the video exhibition, was no exception. Although his subject matter was the real world — overwhelmingly people and the things they use — his work was thick with symbolism, which he, like most artists, obstinately refused to explain. His goal, Ayala explained, was to get people to really see, to notice what they failed to notice before.