The Art that Made Mexico

The Art That Made Mexico: Paradise, Power and Prayers , artist Alinka Echeverria explores the three major forces – nature, power and faith – that have shaped Mexican art, and Mexico itself. Alinka Echeverria reveals the way in which Mexican artists shook off European artistic influence to find a distinctive voice, expressed through landscape painting, and reconnected with pre-Hispanic subject matter.


The Art that Made Mexico Part 1 – Paradise

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The murals of Teotihuacan and illustrated Aztec codices show how nature was the reference point for their worldview, their power structures and their calendars. But following the conquest in the 16th century, the Spanish ‘re-educated’ indigenous artists to aspire to European aesthetics, and for nearly 300 years after conquest, the art of what was called New Spain looked a lot the art of old Spain.


A century after independence in 1810, artists began to depict Mexico’s ancient foundation myths, including the symbolic volcanoes that dominate the Valley of Mexico. Indigenous people, their land and lives were no longer taboo.

Following the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910, landscape paintings established a new style that was resolutely Mexican, and confirmed the re-established connections between Mexico’s indigenous population and their land. Forces of nature and Mexico’s landscape continue to be integral to the Mexican sense of artistic identity.

The Art that Made Mexico Part 2 – Power

Alinka Echeverria reveals how artists became the authors of Mexico’s official history, defining the origins of its power and wielding significant influence over millennia.

Following the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910, landscape paintings established a new style that was resolutely Mexican, and confirmed the re-established connections between Mexico’s indigenous population and their land. Forces of nature and Mexico’s landscape continue to be integral to the Mexican sense of artistic identity.

The relationship between art and power can be seen throughout world history. But Alinka argues that Mexico differs. Not only did indigenous artists project the power of the elites in its ancient civilisations, artists became the authors of Mexican history and the power-brokers in the struggles for political dominance.

The Art that Made Mexico Part 3 – Prayer

In this final episode, Alinka explores how faith has always driven life in Mexico, and how the need for a visual image created a unique blend of Mesoamerican and Catholic faith.

Artists were kept close to the elites in Mexico’s ancient civilisations to depict the deities that were the foundations of the society’s structures and beliefs. Gods and goddesses were created in the mind’s eye of millions, who in turn worshipped the imagery that the artists provided.

When the Spanish imposed Catholicism, the notion of venerating the divine using iconography already existed. And in some of Mexico’s most spectacular art, iconography incorporating both Mesoamerican and Catholic belief can be found. This unique hybridity could only exist in Mexico, where art has long been crucial to the personal relationship between believer and the divine. Ex-votos paintings are offerings of thanks to saints and expressions of devotion. They have long been the preserve of poor and rural Mexicans, and depict very personal situations.

Today, one artist is pushing the boundaries of belief, incorporating symbols of secular culture and consumerism with religious iconography. Even as the power of the church wains in Mexico, religious imagery can still be found everywhere.

 

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The Art that Made Mexico
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The Art that Made Mexico
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Alinka Echeverria explores the three major forces - nature, power and faith - that have shaped Mexican art, and Mexico itself. 
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