Art has always served to express ourselves, to say something that sometimes words cannot say, to tell stories, convey feelings and sensations that might otherwise never be shared. It has served as the cry of oppressed peoples, and also to tell of wonderful victories of outstanding characters from the past: disturbed minds, great minds, hearts afflicted, tormented and yet full of passion. They have always found an ally in the arts, as there isn’t a purer way of saying something than through them.
Art has always been with us, and today we’ll talk about one of the most representative artistic expressions of Mexico: Mexican Neo-muralism, a new artistic movement that has gradually positioned itself within Mexican society.
Mexican Muralism emerged after the Mexican Revolution in 1910, thanks to a program aimed to socializing art and sought to reject the traditional painting that existed within certain intellectual circles. This current proposed the creation of monumental works for the people, in which the Mexican reality back then, the social struggles and other aspects of the history of Mexico, were embodied.
Some of its main exponents were Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and the driving force behind this movement was José Vasconcelos, the first secretary of public education in Mexico. After the revolution, Vasconcelos asked a group of young artists to paint an image of the ‘national will’ on the walls of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. It was there that the artists developed a monumental art form, which served as inspiration.
From 1930 onward, the movement went international, spreading to Argentina, Peru and Brazil. It was even adopted by the United States on some of its public buildings.
Mexican Muralism, more than an artistic movement, was a social movement, and over time has transformed, since there are new trends within it currently still serving as a form of expression of the people.
Currently there are artists or groups of artists seeking, through Neo-muralism, to appropriate reality, while recovering spaces in a creative way. Neo-muralism is a power struggle, a strategy for people to re-appropriate spaces and create critical works driven by the social reality they live in.
The spirit is to inspire more people to leave their feelings embodied in the walls. Whether it is anger, happiness or struggle, just expressing their joy or discomfort; thus channeling in a positive way all the energy generated in society.
Mexico has evolved. It is very different from the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period, which makes us think of what the great muralists of the past paint today? There are hundreds of themes both good and bad that could be reflected on murals today.
Neo-muralism includes the expression of social discontent. But it is also responsible for improving spaces where is performed. One example is the collective “Nuevo Gérmen” (lit. New Germ), which recently painted all the walls of houses in a neighborhood called “Palmitas” in Pachuca, Hidalgo. 209 houses were transformed in order to create a giant mural and help improve the lives of its inhabitants.
Today there is also graffitti, a type of mural painting that was initially rejected and stigmatized, and now is partially accepted, depending on what is created. It provides a more urban style for this movement, focusing more on the re-appropriation of spaces in the city.
In Mexico, states such as Baja California have established themselves in the eyes of the spectators, who appreciate the various murals that local artists have created, giving life and color to the cities, while sending a message to all those who pass by them.
This new artistic movement has established itself in the eyes of Mexicans and the world, keeping this movement alive. From its roots in 1920s, Mexican muralism has served as an important form of social expression.