Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Strong Arm of Arturo Garcia Bustos

I do love the ability of a print to grab one's attention, open one's eyes to events in the world and bring about some acknowledgement and change. Such is the work of Arturo Garcia Bustos. His dramatic and no nonsense works sear right into our hearts and let us see, as only one from inside a situation can, the depths of humanity and the trials of a burdened nation trying to free itself from under the slumbering giant keeping them subjugated. Garcia Bustos' prints speak to us today as eloquently as from the time of the Mexican Muralist period when these images were made. He talks about the noble, poor working classes, and poverty and their struggle to be an independent people. He talks about the injustices found in the Mexican government who, at the time, sought to keep literal and artistic voices silent through intimidation and pain from death squads (not unlike today's corrupted situation). Some of his work references other themes like the "Sower" straight out of Millet and van Gogh; planting the seeds of revolution. Other times we see, like one of the prints shown below, the ghost of Goya's "3rd of May" painting, where the innocent are systematically slaughtered. There is little of Garcia Bustos' work that isn't well-considered and measured in his graphic voice. The work is bold and bows down to no one. He is considered one of Mexico's greatest living printmakers and muralists. His devotion to teaching is unparalleled in a land where mentorship is keenly felt and continues to feed Mexico's strong artistic legacy. He is an inspiration to generations of printmakers here and abroad.
Arturo García Bustos was born in Mexico City in 1926. As a child, Garcia Bustos was drawn to art with the wave of Mexican Muralism sweeping the nation. He studied architecture at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria Núm 1 and then, at the age of fifteen, he went to study at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in 1941, UNAM, INBA and later at the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura ("La Esmeralada")
One of his teachers was Frida Kahlo, with whom he went to study at her home in Coyoacan when she became too ill to go to the school. She affectionately called that group of students “Los Fridos”. He also worked as a mural painting apprentice with Diego Rivera. In the 1950s, Garcia Bustos took his first printmaking courses with Leopoldo Méndez at the Taller de Gráfica Popular, and then went to Korea and China to study Asian printmaking techniques.
Much of his career has been spent teaching and giving lectures, seminars and conferences. He taught engraving at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Guatemala City and founded the Taller de Grabado at the Casa del Lago in Chapultepec. He taught fine arts at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca, Escuela de Iniciación Artística Núm. 3 in Mexico City and drawing and painting workshops at the Casa del Lago in Chapultepec. He has given conferences on the history of engraving and lithography in Mexico at the state universities of Oaxaca and Sinaloa, the Galería Municipal de Veracruz and in various venues in Mexico City. Abroad, he has given conferences on Mexican muralism and engraving in Germany, Italy and Guatemala.
García Bustos’ social life was spent in the company of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, sharing their ideas on art and politics. It was there he met and married his future wife, Guatemalan artist Rina Lazo. Garcia Bustos and his wife curently live in Mexico City and have opened part of their house, calling it the Galería de la Casa Colorado. The couple’s daughter, Rina García Lazo, an architect specializing in monument restoration, runs the gallery.
He has had numerous exhibitions in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, North Korea, the Soviet Union, , the United States, Venezuela, and he participated in numerous exhibitions with the Taller de Gráfica Popular.

Murals:
1947 assisted Frida Kahlo with a mural at the Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez House, Coyoacán
1948 Hotel Posada del Sol, Mexico City
1950 Escuela Rural de Temixco, Morelos
1952 Sociedad Cooperativa Ejidal, with Rina Lazo and Atilio Carrasco
1964 Pobledores de las Siete Regiones de Oaxaca, Museo Nacional de Antropología
1969 sixteen print murals, Venustiano Carranza House Museum in Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila
1971 Casa de Obrero Mundial, Mexico City
Oaxaca en la historía de México, state government building, Oaxaca
Centro de la Cultura, Azcapotzalco, Mexico City
Accolades:
1947 first prize, UNAM
1949 second prize, poster contest honoring Chopin
1953 gold medal, Peace Movement, Guatemala
1954 first prize Grupo Saker-Ti, Guatemala
1955 first prize and gold medal , V Festival de la Juventud, Poland
1957 first prize, Salón Annual de Grabado, Salón de la Plástica Mexicana
1957 silver medal, engraving event, Moscow
1962 first prize, Consejo Nacional de Turismo, Mexico City
1973 member of the Academia de Artes
1974 member of the World Peace Council
1974 Salón de la Plástica Mexicana
1974 Mexican Academy of Arts

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