Persistence - Museo de Arte Moderno Guillermo Ceniceros
Invitation to the community in Durango
To the community in Durango,
I want to mark this return to my homeland as something special. 2018 is the 60th anniversary of my career in the arts, a milestone that is being celebrated thru the aptly titled exhibit Persistence. We are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Guillermo Ceniceros Museum of Modern Art in the city of Durango. While celebrations tend to be properly marked by opening events and photos, thru this letter I want to take the opportunity to delve deeper into what is being celebrated. We celebrate an art language. The art language that has nourished me and has been my constant endeavor. The art language that permitted me to delve into an artistic exploration that evolved into an irrefutable signature. An art language that maintained relevance thru six decades and that will continue on its own thru time.
Experts in the field of creativity theorize that childhood experience plays an important role in defining creative ability. I am a native of El Salto Pueblo Nuevo, Durango and a believer of this theory. I grew up surrounded by rivers and streams, tall trees and long trails. My father was a talented carpenter who built wonderful artifacts. My childhood curiosity had no limits. Later as a young adult I was fortunate to have my parents support as my interest in the arts evolved into a career choice. Consider that back in those days very few people made a living thru an arts career. The choice I was making wasn’t just job related, but a life commitment choice.
As a young artist my formative stage could have not been of better circumstances. I sought work in the team of Maestro David Alfaro Siqueiros, a most talented artist who was making history thru his bold and monumental projects. Projects that were only possible because of his team leadership ability. I found myself right in the center of the Escuela de Pintura Mexicana as the first assistant of Maestro Siqueiros, my daytime job, as well as a young artist in search of his own creative expression, my night-time job. After seeing some of my early work in progress a notable art dealer of the time noted “these paintings show influence, not ready yet”. Once the “influence” is removed from an artwork it will be left with either everything, or nothing at all. A short time after, during a night’s work session I found that which was left, my own expression, my own language.
The artistic language of this young artist had a fast and enthusiastic welcome. During those early years I won the first prize of the important Premio Nacional de Pintura (SEP) and had a solo exhibit at the notable Palacio de Bellas Artes Museum. My first solo gallery exhibits were opening to complete sell-throughs. All the art critics wrote about my work, and as time went by some began to ask about “what comes next for Ceniceros?”. At the time the group of the Ruptura was forming with many of my contemporaries turning to Geometric Abstraction. Others were following the Escuela Mexicana Oaxaqueña of Tamayo. What did Ceniceros do? I believed I was in the early stages of the possibilities of my art language so I continued to explore and build on it. I continued to exhibit in Mexico and abroad. Within my art language I had long periods where I explored currents that had developed; the period of darkness, the period of brown earth colors, the period of material exploration, the period of technique as a catalyst, the period of human geometry, amongst others. I also continued developing mural painting proposals, a form of painting that had mostly been abandoned at the time. I completed monumental murals in numerous public institutions such as the Palacio Legislativo de San Lázaro, the Copilco and Tacubaya metro stations, the atrium of El Senado de Tamaulipas, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Telefonistas, the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, amongst many others. I estimate that my murals and public art projects are seen by more than half a million people each day. What did Ceniceros do during those decades? I continued to follow the line of my art language, because to continue is to believe, to believe is to persist, and to persist is to find.
From the beginning my art’s language proposal summoned my Muralismo experience thru a conjunction of form, space, perspective and composition. Technique and the use of materials and tools would lead to first stage compositional elements that opened, sometimes thru mystery, other times thru visual poetry, the possibilities of a hidden thematic. From the beginning I considered myself a Structural Figurative in search of the formal and informal possibilities of the human body, specifically of women. The figuration of my work does not search a story or an anecdote, rather thru my studies in form-structure and geometry my art searches to trap the poetry in painting. Mine isn’t an isolated language. Thru its evolution it considered the Muralismo Mexicano, the Figuration of Modern Art, the geometric human studies of DaVinci, the structural form studies of the art of our pre-hispanic cultures and finally my life experience and my own imagination. The responsibility of an artist with a found art language is the same as that of a science researcher, to continue the amplification of possibilities and to continue searching for answers.
Today I return to my homeland at almost eighty years after having first seen it. Thru my work I bring with me the compendium of all my art experience. The results of my own research into an art language that today is its own signature. Certainly this is my most valuable possession as well as my most valuable offering. My 60 years of Persistence.