February 25, 2005

A guided trip through the murals of Diego Rivera

By Luis Alonso Pérez

“We are about to witness the work of a colossus” said Gregorio Luke, seconds before the theatre’s lights went off so those present could admire, almost in life-size, what Luke describes as “The expressive force of Mexican Culture”.

The conference and projection of Diego Rivera’s work took place last Friday February 18th, in USD’s Institute for Peace and Justice. Gregorio Luke was invited by the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Diego and the Mexican General Consulate of San Diego, as a part of their conference cycle called “Los Rostros de México”.

Gregorio Luke y mural de Rivera al fondo.

For Luke, San Diego feels just like home, since he lives and works in Los Angeles as the director of the Museum Of Latin-American Art (MOLA) in Long Beach. But the invited lecturer has more than twenty years of experience as cultural and art promoter, as well as having a great knowledge of the Latin-American culture since he worked for more than ten years as a Mexican consul for cultural affairs in the United States.

A vast collection of photographic material of Diego Rivera’s artistic life was projected in a large screen, at the same time; the lecturer was narrating carefully selected passages of Rivera’s interesting personal life.

The work projected revealed the eclecticism of his fast-changing influences and his never-ending search for innovative styles. His explorer spirit, restless temperament and solid ideological convictions, took him to remote places around the world, allowed him to work side by side with some of the most important painters of his time, and overall led him to a very intense life, full of triumphant events and depressive periods, which caused him a great deal of pain, but made him express other people’s suffering through his work, and at the same time creating a piece of art useful to society.

The lecturer talked about Rivera’s return to México, after more than fifteen years living in a self-exile. “Mi return home produced a newly-born aesthetic joyfulness… everything was a revelation to me” said Luke in the words of the Mexican painter. Diego Rivera found things quite different than the way they where before the revolution, so after it was finished, he helped create an artistic style that tried to revolutionize culture and education: Murals. Their goal was to present Mexico’s history and struggle in the most important public places in the country, so they could be enjoyed and comprehended by the masses.

For a little more than an hour, the audience saw some of the most famous murals of Rivera’s career, some where composed of three slide projections put together to form a big rectangle, that allowed spectators to admire many of the murals in their original size.

Luke left one of the most famous murals of Diego Rivera’s career for last. He considers it as one of the most important pieces of Mexican Art, and it’s called “Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central” (Dream of a Sunday afternoon in central grove), an 840 square feet mural, dreamed and created by Rivera in 1947. According to Gregorio Luke “this mural represents the history of an entire country in a single wall”.

The next conference in the “Rostros de México” series will be on March 7th and it will be held by Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis, who will talk about some of the most important actors of the Mexican “Golden era” cinema, called “Los Rostros del Cine Mexicano”.

For more information visit their web page www.losrostrosdemexico.com or call (619) 308-9920.

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