While at a glance it may seem little more than innocuous fancy, a second look at the work of Zacatecas-born painter/sculptor Rafael Coronel reveals a decidedly odd bent of mind, one which has an uncanny ability to conjure up images that while otherworldly and, yes, fanciful, are also eerie disquieting.
Through the middle of August at the Universidad de Guadalajara art gallery (MUSA), you will have the chance to immerse yourself in Coronel’s special brand of macabre surreality, and perhaps even submit – via gallery sanctioned cosplay – to the marginalized spirit of your bygone childhood.
If you’ve had the occasion to visit Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara’s UNESCO crown jewel, you may have already been introduced to Coronel. Upon entering the large initial courtyard you turn right and walk 20 paces under a shaded colonnade to a much smaller, sun-bleached one, where you will encounter three obsidian-colored figures in robes and long peaked caps, each grasping a disembodied head not dissimilar to their own.
This same trio of what could be described as magicians, medieval clerics or Celtic druids is the first thing you see upon entering the long, rectangular sala which houses Coronel’s show “Alegoria de la Razon” (Allegory of Reason) at the MUSA.
Born in the state of Zacatecas’ eponymous capital, it’s unlikely that the now 85-year-old Coronel would have become anything but an artist, having been born into an artist family where, among others, his grandfather was a church decorator and his older brother Pedro a painter. During his long career the younger Coronel often rubbed elbows with Mexico’s art elite, including its most eminent of grey eminences, Diego Rivera, whose daughter, architect Ruth Maria Rivera Marin, he married. They had three children before she died in 1969 at the age of 42.