If you’re looking for a connection to Mexico on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), be sure to include Highpoint Center for Printmaking on your itinerary. Walk in the door and you’ll be met by a selection of prints brimming with Mexican folk imagery woven into works on very contemporary themes. The show, Graphic Reality: Mexican Printmaking Today, features the work of about a dozen printmakers, most of them mid-career pros. Organized and curated by Artemio Rodriguez, Graphic Reality comes to the Twin Cities following runs at the International Print Center in New York and at Columbia College in Chicago.
Some of the most eye-catching works come from Rodriguez himself. His prints fill an entire wall of the gallery (though it’s a fairly small space). His imagery and style—black-and-white compositions without a speck of gray—evoke the so-called “father of Mexican printmaking,” Jose Guadalupe Posada. But like any family resemblance, the variations are what make the story interesting.
Rodriguez plays with Mexican folk images in clever ways. Will you see skeletons and religious icons? Yes, except that Rodriguez adds pop culture and political elements to the mix. Two examples are Super Muerto, a deathly superhero clad in cape and underpants, and Gluttony, a man with food-stuffed cheeks and fast-food logos tattooed on his arms.
Other artists in the show incorporate similar imagery, but in vastly different styles. If Rodriguez descends from Posada, then Oscar Camilo de las Flores may well trace his roots back to Hieronymus Bosch. Absorbing his dense, detailed prints requires some sustained attention. Like Bosch, Camilo de las Flores’ prints suggest a landscape at once timeless and historic, where human actions—both banal and grand—take on a mythical quality.
In the introduction to the show, Rodriguez says that the printmaking community in Mexico is “fresh and alive and diverse,” taking its creative inspiration from many sources. Rodriguez and Camilo de las Flores are two variations on this theme. Other artists in the show follow very different threads to very different, but equally compelling conclusions.
Graphic Reality runs through November 28 at Highpoint Center for Printmaking.
Top left, 21st Century Calligraphy, Oscar Camilo de las Flores
Center right, Gluttony, Artemio Rodriguez