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Troves of abstraction fill Cabañas museum

It isn’t that Guadalajara’s Instituto Cultural Cabañas never includes non-pictorial art among the four or five shows that it typically exhibits simultaneously.

pg24It’s just that when one thinks of Mexican art, the mind hews to work such as the monumental, soaring murals of Jose Clemente Orozco, which are the institution’s signature works on permanent display in this former orphanage’s chapel, and its claim to fame in the travel books.

Yet at the moment, the Cabañas has a large, long-running exhibit of nothing but abstract work by Jalisco artists (“Cabañas offers retrospective of Mexican art on the cusp,” Guadalajara Reporter, July 2, 2021) and three other exhibits by three artists with Guadalajara roots, among which one is hard pressed to find a single, representational element.

There is a fanciful drawing of a swan in the small, historical collection of letters from Pedro Friedeberg, “La nefasta hinfluencia, aún” (The dire hinfluence, still). The H in hinfluencia is a play on words based on a group of artists Friedeberg joined, Los Hartos, or Those Who are Sick of It. These artists defined themselves in opposition to the nationalistic, social/political themes of Orozco and other muralists. Friedeberg’s Jewish mother fled to Mexico from the ravages of World War II, which seems to explain why his outlook was so different from the prevailing one here. (Friedeberg, like the other artists included here, is still living.)

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