How Mexico’s Contemporary Art Scene Speaks to the Country

Interview with Lourdes Villagomez by Bojana Duric

Cities around the world have started to take notice of the contemporary art scene in Mexico including London, Paris and Madrid. Last year, these three cities showcased works by acclaimed artists Lourdes Villagómez, Lola Argemi, Francesco Pinzon, Sofia Castellanos and Cocolvú for an immersive exhibit celebration led by Patrón Tequila.

These five talented artists are making waves in the contemporary art scene in Mexico, and have a collective mission to educate and highlight all the beautiful things the country has to offer through their art. Flux spoke to one of the artists, Lourdes Villagómez about the art scene in Mexico, and found out how traditions not only inspire her work, but they also help conserve the country’s past.

What’s the current art scene like in Mexico? Is there a new wave of artists exploring different avenues, and doing something different than ever before?

LV: Something really interesting is happening in Mexico — people are starting to get into art even more, especially art that speaks to our country. There’s a lot of muralism and street art going on, especially in Mexico City. I think it’s great because art can come across as ‘snobbish’ at times, but this style of art is for everyone. I love it because it’s out there for everyone to see and experience.

Tradition and folklore play such an important role in Mexican art. Is it important for you to incorporate storytelling in your work?

LV: Definitely. I started painting about Mexico when I lived in Florence during my Master’s. Whenever I had the chance to do a ‘free theme’ in my classes, I always chose Mexico. I wanted to show people the place I lived and grew up in, and where my friends and family come from. So when I was living abroad and far away, it was only then when I realized how important Mexico is to me. Right now I live in Mexico City and I still want to continue portraying Mexico in my art so people can learn more about it, especially with events and traditions like the Day of the Dead.

Why is Day of the Dead so important? How did you use the immersive exhibit from last year to portray the celebration and Mexico?

LV: A lot of people have trouble understanding the point of Día de Muertos and why we celebrate the dead – but it’s actually the other way around. What we’re really celebrating is how we have the chance to be alive. We also have this celebration to be in contact with our loved ones that have passed away — it’s truly wonderful for us. So for this exhibit in London, I collaborated with other artists but had my own room. The main aspect was colour and the specific colour palette ranging from yellow, orange, blue and turquoise. Whenever I see these colours, I’m reminded of Mexico and the celebration — the country is full of colour from our markets, food and to our clothing, everything is so vibrant.

How did you get together with the other artists involved in the immersive exhibit, and how did it all come to life?

LV: We’ve worked together on previous projects. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of artists, but these four really want to put the name of Mexico in a good place. That’s why we wanted to do this type of exhibit originally in Mexico before Patrón even reached out. Initially we wanted to do it as a nonprofit so that we can make it available to the public and showcase Mexican culture and traditions to the world, which we still want to do. So the timing of this was perfect.

I know you get this question all the time, but which artists have recently inspired you? Any newcomers we should know about?

LV: Yes, I have a lot of them! One is Onur, he’s amazing. He always discusses climate change and serious societal issues. His techniques are amazing and he’s done murals all around world. There’s also Alexa Meade. She paints people and 3D spaces/objects but does it in a way to make it look 2D — she’s so smart and plays with perception and perspective. I also admire the works of my four colleagues I worked with at the Patrón exhibit. All of them inspire me — the way they get involved with their projects and how they invest all of their energy into them.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming exhibits we should make note of?

LV: I’m planning on a solo exhibition this year in Mexico City. I’m still working with some brands at the moment for some murals, and other things. I really want to experiment and change my style, but use the same colour palette.

To view and keep up to date with Lourdes’ work, visit her website lourdesvillagomez.com and follow her on Instagram: @lourdes_villagomez 

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