The Shows to See in Mexico City During Gallery Weekend

A guide to the best exhibitions in the Mexican capital

BY Magalí Arriola in Critic's Guides | 05 SEP 19

Adriana Varejao, Rome Meat Ruin, 2016, oil on aluminum and polyurethane, 256.1 × 46 × 26 cm. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Vincente de Mello

Rashid Johnson, ‘Los Senderistas’ (The Hikers)
Museo Tamayo
27 July – 10 November

Adriana Varejão, ‘Otros cuerpos detrás’ (Other Bodies Behind)
Museo Tamayo
24 August – 10 November

A collaboration between Museo Tamayo and the Aspen Art Museum, Rashid Johnson’s ‘Los Senderistas’ continues the artist’s exploration of the relationships – and tensions – between modernist aesthetics and African American identity and culture, to consider how escape and displacement operate as metaphors for the movement of bodies in political history. Johnson’s exhibition is presented in dialogue with Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão’s ongoing examination of representation and race. ‘Otros cuerpos detrás’ surveys Varejão’s expansive practice since the 1990s, which investigates a convoluted colonial history that remains palpable in contemporary Brazilian society.

Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo), Paricutín y sus lomas de arena (Paricutín and its hills of sand), 1945, mixed media on masonite, 121.4 × 152 cm. Courtesy: Museo Nacional de Arte-MUNAL

Dr. Atl, ‘Atl, fuego, tierra y viento: Sublime sensación’ (Atl, Fire, Earth and Wind: Sublime Sensation)
12 April – 29 September

‘Atl, Fuego, Tierra y Viento’ brings together paintings, drawings and photographic documentation of the birth of the Paricutín volcano in 1943, in the state of Michoacán. The volcano’s sudden appearance and activity were meticulously recorded by painter Gerardo Murillo, aka Dr. Atl (the Náhuatl word for ‘water’), over two consecutive years. A role model for Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera and a close collaborator of architect Luis Barragán, Dr. Atl was a visionary landscape artist whose interest in science led him to study geology and volcanology. Influenced by, among other things, the Italian futurist movement, Dr. Atl developed complex images in which matter, movement and energy coalesce into a cosmic, pantheistic vision.

Bruno Berry (Gabriel Sierra), Untitled, 1970, each approx. 40 × 30 cm. Courtesy: the artist and kurimanzutto Mexico City / New York

Gabriel Sierra, ‘Horas de Museo’ (Museum Hours)
5 September – 12 October

‘Horas de Museo’ is a meditation on how ideas and representation take shape. The exhibition’s point of departure is an as-yet-unpublished novel by Sierra that re-creates a rather improbable 1970s group exhibition of unknown artists whose practices resonate in our contemporary, globalized world. ‘Horas de Museo’ unites Sierra’s interests in the unfurling of exhibition spaces, the perception of everyday objects and the convergence of obscure forces to describe our dark political situation.

José Luis Venegas, Afife Baloyán, 1974. Courtesy: José Luis Venegas and Yvonne Venegas

Yvonne Venegas, ‘Días únicos: El estudio y su archivo’ (Special Days: The Studio and Its Archive)
Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, UNAM
24 August – 1 December

Yvonne Venegas, ‘El lápiz de la naturaleza y otras apropiaciones’ (The Pencil of Nature and Other Appropriations)
Galería de Arte Mexicano
5 September – 20 November

At MUAC, the photographer Yvonne Venegas shares her personal take on the archive of her father’s photography studio, which has operated in Tijuana since the early 1970s and greatly influenced her practice. For over 40 years, José Luis Venegas, in collaboration with his wife Julia Edith, has documented the social life and cultural traits of the border town, revealing – in their daughter’s words – how the residents’ dual identities have evolved, often precariously, over time. In addition to presenting this selection of her father’s photographs at MUAC, Venegas exhibits her most recent work at GAM, where she continues her longtime investigation of social roles and gendered codes – including, for the first time, self-portraiture.

François Bucher, Anisotropía #7 – Big Bang, 2019, polarized film and polycarbonate, 120 × 60 cm. Courtesy: the artist and joségarcía

François Bucher, ‘Contact – (cosmic background noise explorer)’
6 September – 19 October

Conceived as a science-fiction novel that would allow us to travel in time and space, ‘Contact – (cosmic background noise explorer)’ is inspired by various moments in Carl Sagan’s eponymous 1985 novel, in which the protagonist establishes communication with extraterrestrial life. Bucher, whose practice has bridged science, nature and spiritual rituals from both Mexico and his native Colombia, constructs an exhibition that establishes connections among historical episodes, mythological narratives and psychic phenomena in order to explore how images form in our consciousnesses.

‘Buildings’, 2019, exhibition view. Courtesy: Lodos 

10 August – 21 September

‘Buildings’ brings together artists from different regions and generations (Helke Baylre, Ghislaine Leung, Diego Salvador Rios, Michael Smith, Lewis Teague Wright and the collaboration of Bernadette Corporation, Claire Fontaine and Reena Spaulings) to articulate the diverse concepts and functions that architectural constructions can embody: these are buildings as locations, containers, properties or institutions that evolve or disappear over time. Each work carries a particular story or transcends narrative as an iconic image that unravels the internal workings of the ideological constructs that influence our everyday lives.

Guillaume Leblon, Precipitation (blue and white), 2019, aluminium die-cast and acrylic paint, 36 × 163 × 78 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Labor

Guillaume Leblon, ‘Aerosol’
7 September – 25 October

Guillaume Leblon’s ‘Aerosol’, the French artist’s first show in Mexico City, comprises a smoky, immersive installation that addresses the body’s permeability to the atmosphere and the environment. A selection of his narrative sculptures and drawings, which includes casts of everyday objects and shallow body prints, operates like a living system that amalgamates exterior spaces and domestic ambiences.

Gallery Weekend CDMX 2019 takes place at various locations around Mexico City, Mexico, 5 – 8 September 2019.

Main image: Rashid Johnson, The Crisis, 2019, exhibition view. Courtesy: the artist and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo; photograph: Ramiro Cháves.

Magalí Arriola is an art critic and independent curator based in Mexico City, Mexico. She is a contributing editor of frieze.