Fabrian Cháirez

The Artwork of Fabrian Cháirez

Born in Chiapas in 1987, Fabrian Cháirez is a Mexican artist whose work questions the predominate idea of masculinity and provides alternate representations of the male image. Already showing an artistic aptitude at an early age, he studied from 2007 to 2012 at the Faculty of Arts in the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas, where he graduated with a BFA in Visual Arts.

Cháirez is a figurative and traditional academically trained painter whose work emphasizes both composition and color. The body of his work has a neoclassical style and is influenced by symbolism and the Art Nouveau. Major art influences in his paintings have come from the works of Mexican Neo-Expressionist painter Julio Gálan: Spanish portrait and landscape painter Joaquin Sorolla, known for his sunlit canvases;  Mexican painter Saturnino Herrán, renowned for his majestic paintings of indigenous people; and Spanish portrait painter Dîego Velásquez, whose work became the model for the early realist and impressionist painters. 

Cháirez’s work, in response to the hostilities against the concept of sexual diversity, revolves around the image of the male body and the LBGTQ world. In his discussion of the stereotypes of Mexican virility, he uses the traditional Mexican archetypes, such as wrestlers, charros or horsemen, and the Mara Salvatrucha or criminal gangs, for his central figures. Cháirez places these generic images in suggestive and erotic scenarios in direct contrast to the existing social norm regarding the male image.

In 2015, Fabrian Cháirez had a solo exhibition entitled “The Garden of Delights” at the José María Velasco Gallery where he presented thirty pieces, including graphic work, illustrations, and oil paintings. In this body of work, he showed typical male figures with feminine features. In 2019, Cháirez exhibited his most controversial work, “The Revolution” at the Palacio de Belles Artes, a prominent cultural center located in central Mexico City. 

“The Revolution” is a thirty by twenty centimeter oil painting on canvas that represents the revolutionary general Emiliano Zapata, a stereotype of Mexican masculinity, who is shown seated naked, wearing a pink hat, tricolor sash, and high-heeled shoes, on a horse. Created in 2014, Cháirez produced this image as a example of other types of masculine representation. After the Mexican Ministry of Culture selected this work to be part of, and the poster image for, the 2019  exhibition entitled “Emiliano: Zapata After Zapata”, a controversy developed in the social media. Zapata’s relatives and supporters threatened to sue Cháirez and the National Institute of Fine Arts for denigrating the figure of the revolutionary leader. 

On December 11, 2019, a demonstration occurred within the Palacio de Belles Arts in which demands for the removal of “The Revolution” were made. A counter demonstration by LBGTQ activists defended the inclusion of the painting in the exhibition. A message from the Minister of Culture defended the painting’s inclusion and rejected any violence or censorship. On December 13th, a note, containing the personal opinion of the Zapata family,  was added next to the painting as a compromise, despite objections by Cháirez and his supporters. In January of 2020, “The Revolution” became part of the Tatxo Benet Censored Art Collection, a collection of all art banned for political, religious or moral reasons, soon to be permanently housed in Barcelona. 

Fabrian Cháirez’s website is located at: https://www.fabianchairez.com

Ernesto Garcia Cabral

The Illustrative Work of Ernesto Garcia Cabral

Ernesto Garcia Cabral, know as El Chango, was the most prolific illustrator, caricaturist, and cartoonist in the history of Mexican journalism. Despite a successful sixty-year career and the production of over twenty-five thousand illustrations, he was never widely known outside of Mexico, with the exception of France, where his work appeared in several publications. 

Ernesto Cabral was born in Huatusco, Veracruz, Mexico in December of 1890 to Vincent and Aurelia Garcia Cabral. As a boy, he displayed artistic ability with drawings of his classmates and landscapes; his first known illustrative work appeared in a Veracruz newspaper in 1900. Cabral received a scholarship in 1907 to study at the San Carlos Art Academy in Mexico City, where he studied under painter Germán Gedovius, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Munich and a master of the chiaroscuro technique. 

Cabral’s professional career, as an illustrator and caricaturist, began in 1909 with his employment at “The Tarantula,” a weekly paper of humor and politics published in Mexico City. While at the paper, he illustrated political activist Aquiles Serdán’s telegraphed eyewitness reports of the Mexican Revolution; these ten illustrations by Cabral are the first known images of the Revolution. In 1911, Cabral was invited by editor Mario Vitoria to co-found “Multicolor”, one of Mexico’s first political satire magazines which took an anti-revolutionary stance and was fueled by criticism of President Francisco Madero”s administration.

With somewhat suspicious timing, Ernesto Cabral was offered a government-sponsored scholarship to leave Mexico and study art in Paris in February of 1912, just when “Multicolor” fell into trouble with President Madero and the Mexican government’s administration. While studying there, Cafral worked as an illustrator for the several French publications: the humor magazines “Le Rire” and “La Baïonnette”, and the mildly risqué erotic magazine “La Vie Parisienne”. He also became associated with important artists such as Diego Rivera, sculptor and painter Fidas Flizondo, and painter Angel Zarraga. 

At the beginning of World War I, Cabral was given another government stipend which took him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he remained until 1917 or 1918. While living there, he illustrated for Argentina’s newspapers “La Nación” and “Caras y Caretas”, among others, and for the Chilean publications “Revista Popular” and “Los Diez de Chile”. 

On his return to Mexico in 1918, Cabral began to illustrate primarily in color and produced many illustrations, including art deco images, and caricatures for publications, such as “Revista de Revistas”, “El Semanario Nacional” and “Compañia Editorial Excélsior”. Established as a prominent caricaturist, Ernesto Cabral produced a prolific amount of editorial work throughout the 1920s and 1930s, during which time he also served as president of the National Union of Cartoonists. 

Ernesto Cabral is mostly remembered today for the posters and lobby cards he executed during The Mexican Golden Age of Cinema, which roughly spanned the years from 1936 to 1956. His style was solidified in the mid-1950s, beginning with his design for the 1956 Mexican comedy film  “El Rey de Mexico”. Cabral’s specialty was illustrations for comedy films. Although he did advertising work for several different studios, his most frequent assignments were for films produced by Mier y Brooks, a prominent studio during Mexico’s Golden Age. Cabral’s dynamic compositions, with their bold colors and cartoonish caricatures, were innovative in the field of film advertising and helped establish the careers of Mexican actors and comedians like Germán Valdés, aka Tin Tan, and Mario Moreno, also known as Cantiflas. 

Cabral continued, during the 1960s, producing work for publications like “Hoy”, “Jueves de Excélsior:, and the newspaper “Novedades”, in which he provided illustrations on the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and social upheaval in the world. The winner of the 1961 Mergenthaler Prize by the Inter-American Press Association, Ernesto Garcia Cabral passed away on August 8, 1968 in Mexico City at the age of seventy-seven.

A collection of Ernesto Cabral’s movie posters with descriptions can be located at: http://www.santostreet.com/subpages/ArtistCabral.htm

Armando Cristeto

Nahum B. Zenil


Nahum B. Zenil, “The Escape”, Date Unknown, Mixed Media on Canvas

Mexican artist Hahum B Zenil taught classes on many different subjects in Mexico City for twenty years before deciding to become a full-time artist. He had a solo exhibiton in 1980 at the Casa de Arte CREA in Mexico City. Zenil was selected to be part of a group exhibition of Mexican art in Stockholm and London in 1984. He continues to work and support artists who explore their sexualities through their art.

Much of Zenil’s works use mixed media on paper or oil on canvas. He preferred to paint on canvas until the materials compromised his health, changing to collages on paoer. Zenil uses his image to relieve pressures he felt as a child growing up homosexual in a small town and to comment on contemporary Mexican culture.

Within Zenil’s mixed media pieces he uses mainly himself as the subject. He pictures himself in his images with many religious figures such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Within his images are many reworked traditional Mexican forms like the retablo and ex-voto styles.

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard, “Our Ancient Gods”, 1916, Oil on Canvas, Collection of Andrés Blaisten

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard, a Mexican painter, began studying drawing and painting with José Inés Tovilla and Severo Amador. He later studied with teachers Julio Ruelas, Fabrés Antonio Catalan, Leandro Izaguirre and Germán Gedovious.

Guinchard’s work is mainly inspired by pre-Columbian Mexico with its folk customsand the lifestyles of its people. His figures have been associated with the traditions of Spanish art, particularly Catalan Modernism, along with the work of Velázquez and José de Rivera. The works of Saturnino Herran includes the paintings: “Labor and Work”, “Mill and Marketers”, and “Legend of the Volcanos”. Guinchard also painted the “Creole” Series and the triptych “Our Ancient Gods”, which includes the image above.

Nahum B Zenil

Nahum B. Zenil, “Angel-Demonio”, 1991, Oil and Ink on Heavy Paper, 72 x 52 cm.

Nahum B. Zenil is a Mexican artist who often uses his own self-portrait as the principal model for a cultural critical interpretation of Mexico, especially concerning homosexuality and mestization. His art is often compared to that of Frida Kahlo, in which the self becomes the principal object of their paintings letting the viewer discover the artists as individualsas well as the broader social and cutural aspects of their work.

Born in the state of Veracruz, Zenil enrolled in 1959 at the Escuela nacional de Maestros in Mexico City from which he graduated in 1964. He later entered the Escula Nacional de Pinture y Escultura in 1966. Zenil is one of the founding members of the Serman Cultural Gay Festival which occurs yearly at the Museum of the University of Chopo.

Luis Barragán

The Architecture of Luis Barragán

Luis Barragán was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His professional training was in engineering, resulting in a degree at the age of twenty-three. His architectural skills were self-taught. In the 1920s, Barragán traveled extensively in France and Spain and, in 1931, lived in Paris for a time, attending Le Corbusier’s lectures. His time in Europe, and subsequently in Morroco, stimulated an interest in the native architecture of North Africa and the Mediterranean, which he related to construction in his own country.

In the late 1920s, Barragán was associated with a movement known as the Escuela Tapatía or Guadalajara School, which espoused a theory of architecture dedicated to the vigorous adherence to regional traditions. His architectural practice was based in Guadalajara from 1927 until 1936 when he moved to Mexico City and remained until his death. Barragán’s work has been called minimalist, but it is nonetheless sumptuous in color and texture. Pure planes, be they walls of stucco, adobe, timber, or even water, are his compositional elements, all interacting with Nature.

Barragán has had a profound influence not only on three generations of Mexican architects, but many more throughout the world. In his acceptance of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, he said, “It is impossible to understand Art and the glory of its history without avowing religious spirituality and the mythical roots that lead us to the very reason of being of the artistic phenomenon. Without the one or the other there would be no Egyptian pyramids, nor those of ancient Mexico.”


A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of September, Solar Year 2018

Red and Whites

On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla spoke his famous “El Grito de Dolores” to his congregation.

Father Hidalgo was born into a moderately wealthy family in the city of Guanajuato, northwest of Mexico City, in 1753. He attended the Jesuit College of San Francisco Javier, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mexico in 1774, and was ordained into the priesthood in 1778. He soon earned the enmity of the authorities, however, by openly challenging both church doctrine and aspects of Spanish rule by developing Mexican agriculture and industry.

In 1803, Hidalgo accepted the curacy of the small parish of Dolores, not far from his native city of Guanajuato. Between 1803 and 1810, he directed most of his energy to improving the economic prospects of his parishioners. Hildalgo also joined the Academia Literaria, a committee seeking Mexico’s independence from Spain.

In September 1810, Spanish authorities learned of the group’s plot to incite a rebellion. On September 13, they searched the home of Emeterio González in the city of Queretaro where they found a large supply of weapons and ammunition. Warned of his impending arrest, Hidalgo, on the morning of September 16th, summoned the largely Indian and mestizo congregation of his small Dolores parish church and preempted authorities by issuing the “El Grito de Dolores”, urging the people to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain.  Attracting enthusiastic support from the Indian and mestizo population, he and his band of supporters moved toward the town of San Miguel.

The rebel army encountered its first serious resistance at Guanajuato. After a fierce battle that took the lives of more than 500 Spaniards and 2,200 Indians, the rebels won the city. By October of 1810, the rebel army, now 80,000 strong, was close to taking Mexico City. Hidalgo, fearful of unleashing the army on the capital city, hesitated, then retreated to the north.

He was captured in Texas, then still a part of the Spanish empire, and executed by firing squad on July 31, 1811. After ten more years of fighting, a weakened and divided Mexico finally won independence from Spain with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba on August 24, 1821. Father Hidalgo’s “El Grito de Dolores” is commemorated on September 16 as Mexican Independence Day.

Xoloti Polo


Xolotl Polo, Unknown Title, Acrylic on Canvas

Polo Xolotl is a Mexican artist born in 1964. Polo first expressed an interest in painting during early childhood by absorbing as much of his artist parent’s knowledge as possible. He studied graphic design at the Iberoamicana AC University and took part in workshops on painting at the regional Fine-Arts institute in Morelos, Mexico.

For years, Xolotl found himself influenced by the history and environment of his country. His progressive transformation led to canvases in which he plays with light and dynamic images, combining abstraction and figuration to portray seemingly torn silhouettes. His work has been exposed during numerous collective and personal exhibits in Mexico. The artist’s paintings also figure in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico, the Javier de la Rosa Museum in the Canary Islands, as well as in the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C.

Alexander Van Driessche

Alexander Van Driessche, “The Naica Mine”, Mexico

In 2000, stunned geologists discovered some of the largest crystals ever found in the then-working Naica Silver Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico. Nearly 1,000 feet underground, selenite crystals as large as 4 feet in diameter and 50 feet long grow in an atmosphere of 136 degrees Fahrenheit and 90-99 percent humidity. Only a handful of people has ever entered one of the five crystal growing caves. In 2015, the mine ceased operation and was closed to the public after a worker suffocated in the inhospitable environment while trying to steal some of the selenite.

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera, “The Maize Festival”, 1923-1924, Fresco Mural, Secretariat of Public Education Main Headquarters, Mexico City, Mexico.

The Maize Festiaval mural was painted on the south wall of the Ministry of Public Education in Mexico City. It was part of a series of paintings done between 1923 and 1928 by Diego Rivera in his first major large-scale mural project.

The themes center around workers, and the glorification of all things Mexican, especially the Mexican Revolution. Rivera named the two courtyards “Labor Courtyard” and the other the “Fiesta Courtyard” based on the themes he painted in each. Because he was affiliated with the Communist Party at the time, Rivera painted small hammers and sickles next to his signature on the panels in this building.

Reblogged with thanks to https://artist-rivera.tumblr.com

Seated Male Figure

Seated Male Figure, Date Unknown, Mexico, Walters Art Museum

This exceptional exploration of the human form has a number of characteristics that underscore the fact that ancient artistic styles throughout West Mexico do not conform to modern political boundaries despite our use of Mexican states to name the region’s ancient cultures. The facial features and figural abstraction attest to connections between the San Sebastiian Red style of Jalisco and the Lagunillas pottery sculptures of adjacent Nayarit.

The male figure’s serene countenance and seated position on a bench-throne suggest a person of high status, his composed visage intimating that he is above the triviality of daily routine. On the other hand, his formal demeanor -arms held away from the body and hands resting securely on the knees- evokes a ritual pose like those of shamanic practices. The lack of any articulation of dress-other than the earrings, composed of a cluster of rounded forms-and the figure’s self-possessed expression point to the interpretation of the work as an idealized portrayal of a shaman in trance.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 6th of July, Solar Year 2018

Torso Stretch

July 6, 1907 was the birthdate of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Considered one of the Mexico’s greatest artist, Frida Kahlo was born in Coyocoan, Mexico City, Mexico. She grew up in the family’s home which was later known as the Blue House or Casa Azul. Frida Kahlo had poor health in her childhood. She contracted polio at age of six and had to be bedridden for nine months.

Frida Kahlo attended the renowned National Preparatory School in Mexico City. It was here that she first met Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who was working on a mural called “The Creation”. Kahlo reconnected with Rivera in 1928 and the two started a romantic relationship, getting married in 1929. During the following years they moved to San Francisco, New York City and Detroit, based on Diego Rivera’s work.

In 1938, Frida Kahlo became a friend of Andre Breton, who was one of the primary figures of the Surrealism movement. That same year she had an exhibition in New York City and sold some of her paintings and received two commissions for future works. One commission was from Clare Boothe Luce; the result was the 1939 painting “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale” telling the story of Luce’s friend Dorothy’s leap to her death.

In the year of 1944, Frida Kahlo painted one of her most famous portrait, “The Broken Column”. In this painting she depicted herself naked and split down the middle, her spine shattered like a  column. She wears a surgical brace in the painting and there are nails all through her body, which is the indication of the consistent pain she went through. During that time, she had several surgeries forcing her to wear special corsets to protect her spine. She sought medical treatment for her chronic pain but treatments were unsuccessful.

In the year of 1953, Kahlo had a solo exhibition in Mexico. Although she had limited mobility at that time, she showed up on the exhibition’s opening ceremony. She arrived by ambulance,  welcomed the attendees, and celebrated the ceremony in a bed the gallery had set up for her. Frida Kahlo’s last public appearance was at a demonstration on July 2, 1953, against the overthrow of President Arbenz of Guatemala. One week later, after her 47th birthday, Frida Kahlo passed away at her beloved Blue House.

Frida Kahlo’s fame grew after her death. Her Blue House was opened as a museum in the year of 1958. In 1970s the interest in her work and life was renewed due to the feminist movement, since she was viewed as an icon of female creativity. In 1983, Hayden Herrera published his book on her, “A Biography of Frida Kahlo”, which drew more attention from the public to her works. In 2002, the movie “Frida” was released and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning Best makeup and Best Original Score.

Dog Effigy

Dog Effigy Ceramic Pot, Date Unknown, Mexico, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

Among the Aztecs of highland Mexico, dogs were associated with the deity Xolotl, the god of death. This deity and a dog were believed to lead the soul on its journey to the underworld. The Mexica also associated Xolotl with the planet Venus as the evening star and the twin brother of the deity QuetzalcГіatl, who personified Venus as the morning star. The dog’s special relationship with humans is highlighted by a number of Colima dog effigies wearing humanoid masks.

This curious effigy type has been interpreted as a shamanic transformation image or as a reference to the modern Huichol myth of the origin of the first wife, who was transformed from a dog into a human. However, recent scholarship suggests a new explanation of these sculptures as the depiction of the animal’s tonalli, its inner essence, which is made manifest by being given human form via the mask. The use of the human face to make reference to an object’s or animal’s inner spirit is found in the artworks of many ancient cultures of the Americas, from the Inuit of Alaska and northern Canada to peoples in Argentina and Chile.

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera, “May Day Procession in Moscow”, Oil on Canvas, 1956, Private Collection

In 1955 Diego Rivera travelled to the Soviet Union for medical treatment. While there he made many sketches, some of which were later used as the basis for oil paintings, as appears to be the case with this artwork.

In the colorful worker’s parade, marchers carry a huge ballon painted with the word “peace” in several languages. One year after painting this scene, Rivera would die of a heart attack at the age of seventy.

Jorge Mendez Blake

Jorge Mendez Blake, “The Castle”, 2007, Bricks, Book

“The Castle” is a 2007 project by Mexican artist Jorge Mendez Blake that subtly examines the impact of a single outside force. For the installation, he constructed a 75 x 13 foot brick wall that balances on top of a single copy of Franz Kafka’s “The Castle”. The mortarless wall bulges at the site of the inserted text, creating an arch that extends to the top of the precarious structure.

Although a larger metaphor could be applied to the installation no matter what piece of literature was chosen, Méndez Blake specifically selected “The Castle” to pay tribute to Kafka’s lifestyle and work. The novelist was a deeply introverted figure who wrote privately throughout his life, and was only published posthumously by his friend Max Brod. This minimal, yet poignant presence is reflected in the brick work—Kafka’s novel showcasing how a small idea can have a monumental presence.

Felix d’Eon

Nautical Art by Felix d’Eon

Felix d’Eon was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, to a French father and a Mexican mother. At a very young age, he and his family moved to Southern California, where he spent most of his childhood and adolescence. He attended college at the Academy of Art University, in San Francisco. He lived in San Francisco until 2010 when he returned to his native Mexico. He now lives in Mexico City with his mini schnauzer, Caperucita Satori.

He is enraptured by various art-historical styles, such as Edwardian fashion and children’s book illustration, Golden-Era American comics, and Japanese Edo printmaking. In his work, he attempts to make the illusion of antiquity complete, using antique papers and careful research as to costume, set, and style. His goal is perfect verisimilitude.

Felix d’Eon subverts their “wholesome” image and harnesses their style to a vision of gay love and sensibility. D’Eon treats vintage illustrative styles as a rhetorical strategy, using their language of romance, economic power, and aesthetic sensibility as a tool with which to tell stories of historically oppressed and marginalized queer communities.