Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Mexican Picasso

Nochturno, 1990, Byron Galvez--beautiful, but not very Picassoy in my view.
Byron Galvez
In my unending pursuit of "everything there is to know about art," one of the most consistent factors I've encountered is the enormous, international influence of one Pablo Picasso. I can't tell you the number of artists I've looked at who have been termed the "Picasso" of their native country. Often times there's not even "the" Picasso, but one of many Picassos, there being some dispute among critics and various financial interest as to which artist in a given country is the "Picassoiest" of several possible candidates. I wonder if Picasso would be flattered or outraged. I'm almost to the point of declaring Picasso as the most influential artist in the entire history of art. Well, anyway, today I found the artist whom that great art connoisseur, Vincent Price, declared to be the "Mexican Picasso." His name was Byron Galvez (he died in 2009 at the age of sixty-eight). I wonder how many other "Mexican Picassos" there might be.

Bronze Female Sculpture, 1989, Byron Galvez
In all fairness to both Galvez and Vincent Price, there is more than a passing resemblance in this Mexican artist's work to that of the Spanish Picasso (Spanish bloodlines, perhaps). Though Galvez traveled to various countries in Europe, there's no indication he knew Picasso personally, or any of the other European artists who influenced him. He was simply a museum tourist (like myself). Virtually all of Galvez's formal training was of Mexican origin, first in growing up in a highly musical farm family (where he only wanted to draw) and then at the National School of the Arts in Mexico City. It was there he first encountered Picasso and Cubism. There, too, he broadened his art to include "Picassoy" sculpture (above) as well as painted Cubism. Byron completed the coursework but never bothered to graduate with a degree. Becoming an artist was more important to him than studying to become an artist. He launched into a career, pursuing commissions, entering competitions, joining exhibitions, along side José Chávez Morado, Alfredo Zalce, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Carlos Orozco Romero and David Alfaro Siqueiros. He was also quite accomplished in selling his work (to Price, among others), and perhaps most important, marrying the woman selling his work--his art dealer, Eva Beloglovsky.
The largest mural in the world,
400 meters by 80 meters, a mural big enough
to jog on or land a small plane.
Byron Galvez's greatest and most lasting contribution to his country's artistic culture did not involve Picasso at all but the design and execution of the largest pedestrian mural in the world. Along with the master plan, in 2007, Galvez designed the central mosaic for the David Ben Gurion Cultural Park in Pachuca. The park project was the last before his death. It included, not only the creation of the 345,000 square-foot central mosaic, but also the design of the 65-acre park itself. Located in the metropolitan area of ​​Pachuca, the David Ben-Gurion Cultural Park consists of a Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the Conservatoire for All Time, a convention center, a concert hall, a Museum of Science and Technology, a top hotel, and a shopping mall. There's also a sculpture garden dedicated to public art and monumental sculpture. Even Picasso has nothing like associated with his name.

An aerial view of Galvez' massive mural and the David Ben-Gurion Cultural Park
 (still under construction) around 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment