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RUFINO TAMAYO

by Andy Brumer

“Personajes con Pajaros,"
Mixografia® on handmade paper,
44 x 36", edition of 100, 1988.

 

 

 

“Dos Hermanos," Mixografia®
onhandmade paper, 41 x 34",
edition of 100, 1987.

(The Remba Gallery, West Hollywood) This exhibition of Rufino Tamayo’s graphic work does more than honor the 100th anniversary of the late Mexican and Modern master’s birth. It, without fanfare, also celebrates the Remba Gallery’s many productive years of working intimately with Tamayo, as well as the genesis of their key invention of the Mixografia printing process. The fruits of their labor will dazzle and delight, startle and surprise anyone who sees this show.

Tamayo was born a full-blooded Zapotec Indian in the Mexican state of Oaxaca in 1899. Over the course of his lengthy and productive career (he died in 1991 at 91), Tamayo came to be regarded not only as one of Mexico’s greatest living painters, but as one of modern art’s major international masters.

Throughout his lifetime Tamayo remained fiercely committed to painting as a spiritual activity. He also bravely defended his pursuit of what he called “the Mexican Tradition,” which he felt was rooted in pre-Hispanic art. It has become part of the Tamayo legacy that he resisted the pressure of fellow artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and the other Mexican Muralists to follow the politically-based/nationalistic themes that dominated Mexican art after that country’s revolution. Fleeing what he experienced as Mexico’s personally oppressive artistic environment, Tamayo left his homeland in 1926 and lived for the next twenty years in the United States and Europe.

Luis and Lea Remba first approached Tamayo with the idea of making prints in 1973. Initially uninterested, Tamayo said that he would venture into printmaking only if he felt confident he could produce editions that possessed the same kinds of volume, textures and depth as his paintings. Luis Remba responded to Tamayo’s challenge by developing a printing method which, eventually, he and Tamayo would together name “Mixografia.” As Remba explains, “I plains, “I set to work and found a way to print with texture. The method allowed the artist to create a collage or maquette out of various materials, such as charred wood, rope, cotton and other natural substances, which we would then cast in copper as a printing plate.”

Remba continues, “the key to the Mixografia process came when we started making our own paper for the editions, which allowed the ink to be absorbed and created a fresco-like quality to the finished works.”

Tamayo found the results extremely pleasing, meaning, as noted above, that it captured the kind of textured luminousity of his paintings. Consequently, the artist embarked with the Rembas on a working relationship which spanned a seventeen-year period, resulting in eighty editions.

Dos Personajes Atacados por Perros (Two Characters Attacked by Dogs) stands not only as one of the most remarkable pieces in this exhibition, but as a true testament to the Remba-Tamayo story. The Rembas printed this work with a stone from a Mexican quarry that measured ten-by-six feet and weighed ten thousand pounds. The piece itself measures sixty by ninety-six inches, which prompts Remba to muse that “I don’t know of any other stone lithograph of comparable size.”

This exhibition includes approximately forty of Tamayo’s prints, thirty of which are Mixografias. They collectively treat the viewer to Tamayo’s hauntingly iridescent visual poetry. One would feel hard pressed not to walk away from this show both profoundly impressed and somehow changed.

“Hombre con Pipa," Mixografia® on hand-
made paper, 37 x 30", edition of 100, 1979.


"Dos Personajes Atacados por Perros,"
Mixografia® print on handmade paper,
edition of 75, 60 x 96", 1983.



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