Critics’ Picks

View of “Fraccionar,” 2019. Right: Chuco Reyes, untitled, undated.

View of “Fraccionar,” 2019. Right: Chuco Reyes, untitled, undated.

Mexico City


Estancia Femsa
General Francisco Ramírez 12-14 Ampliación Daniel Garza
February 2–May 2, 2019

The best piece in this group show is, arguably, not a work of art. It is a miniature folding screen featuring six panels jointed together, each with a different image of the transcendental beauty of the supermodel Iman. The curiosity rests on its own wooden table, to the right of a massive colonial-period painting of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. That both of these objects are right in front of Luis Barragán’s bed, and that he would have opened his eyes every morning to the Virgin Mary receiving civilization-changing news as well as to the beauty of Iman, is, to me, remarkable. Even better is Inti Guerrero’s curatorial acumen to hang, right above Iman, one of Chucho Reyes’s flamboyant Christs (untitled, n.d.), this one wearing a feathered, carnivalesque loincloth, standing almost mid-dance as he bleeds.

The precision of the installation is striking, especially for a space like Barragán’s home, where perspicuity reigns and foreign objects often look dispensable. An example of this is the guest bedroom, overtaken by Mientras me despierto (While I Wake Up), 1985, a jewel-toned Julio Galán canvas in which a man stares out a tiny window—mirroring the very oneiric, actually tiny window in the room—in a hallucinatory scene that includes a goofy but threatening dog wearing boxer shorts. That this oversize painting wasn’t always there to stimulate houseguests’ dreams makes no sense. In the white room, Liliana Maresca’s No todo lo que brilla es oro (Caja Grande) (Not All That Glitters Is Gold [Big Box]), 1989, brings out the mysticism of Barragán’s monastic architecture. In the video, she plays with geometric metallic objects in an alchemical-looking ritual made no less serious by its delightfulness, a child’s laughter ringing in the background.

The incorporation of works by Maresca, a religionless but ardent mystic, and Galán, the enfant terrible of Mexican painting, into Barragán’s Catholic-decor extravaganza is not an obvious call but one that clicks immediately. After all, it takes a certain amount of queerness to reconcile opposites: peaceful nature and the city, externality and interiority, devotion and desire.