World-renowned Gustavo Pérez and others merge indigenous and modern styles, opens Friday, January 21
By Mexic-Arte Museum
Dec 24, 2004
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AUSTIN, TX – December 21, 2004:  Mexic-Arte Museum proudly presents Siete Mundos:  Cerámica Veracruzana beginning Friday, January 21, 2005 and runs through February 20, 2005.  An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, January 21, 2005 at 7PM.   

Siete Mundos:  Cerámica Veracruzana is made possible by a major grant from the SBC Foundation.  Additional Support is provided by CONACULTA-INBA and the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin.   

Siete Mundos:  Cerámica Veracruzana  

The exhibit is an assembly of fifteen artists who currently live in the Mexican State of Veracruz—a rich artistic region.  The State of Veracruz has two specific geographic zones where those who work with ceramics are concentrated in Veracruz and Xalapa.   The exhibition is curated by Graciela Kartofel, Ida Rodríguez Prampolini, and Paloma Torres.  

Siete Mundos/Seven Worlds is based on the number seven. In this universe of Veracruz ceramics, “seven” of the many possible worlds have been given a privileged place.  Seven days of the week, seven the Biblical lapse of creation, seven musical notes, seven worlds that are:  sculpture, utilitarian items, miniatures, installation, relief, collaborative works, and objects.  

The artist list includes Leonor Anaya, Alfonso Ávila, Margarita Cházaro, Constantino Méndez, Artemio Mendoza, Elsa Naveda, Martha Ovalle, Tomás Owen, world-renowned Gustavo Pérez, Maite Rodríguez, Joel Bautista Rojo, the late Georges Vinaver, Viviana Romo, Rocío Sagaón and Valentina Sandoval.  

Mexico is distinguished along with Japan, China, and countries in the Middle East for having a long ceramic tradition of outstanding quality produced continuously since the first inhabitants down to the present.  Cultures based in what is today the State of Veracruz are exceptional in their creativity.  Dating back to the ancient Olmec Civilization, these regional artisans possess a sculptural tradition that is vital, ceremonial, materially utilitarian and decorative.  

The port of Veracruz, a beach site sizzling with high temperatures and music, pleasure-filled artists work with tactile materials creating ornamental and utilitarian designs.  The area hosts Joel Bautista Rojo, Martha Ovalle, Maite Rodríguez, and Margarita Cházaro.  Within the Port area, there are occasional creations of an aesthetic tenor such as those of Cházaro.  Her installations are ample portions of well-resolved production not lacking in humor, well-thought-out, autobiographical and concerned with the surrounding environment.  

The city of Xalapa, nestled in the hills one thousand feet above the Gulf of Mexico, rests in an environment of isolation—an urban labyrinth contrasting climate and beautiful countryside.  The atmosphere cultivates stronger personalities and passions among artists.  Xalapan-area artists include Leonor Anaya, Alfonso Ávila, Elsa Naveda, Constantino Méndez, Artemio Mendoza, Tomás Owen, Viviana Romo, Valentina Sandoval, Rocío Sagaón, the late Georges Vinaver, and world-renowned Gustavo Pérez. 

Born in Mexico City in 1950, Pérez is the most famous ceramist in contemporary Mexican art.  Pérez has built his own reputation as an international artist with incessant effort and dedication.  Serving as an influence to his colleagues, he offers a new aesthetic from a country with centuries of tradition in ceramics.  Pérez’s vessels surpass the utilitarian.  His tea pots and vases are prized sculptures bearing beautiful drawings set on delicate forms applied with unique applications of color. 

Curatorial Information 

Graciela Kartofel is a art historian specializing in specializing in Latin American modern and contemporary art.  She is a graduate from The School of Philosophy and Literature from The University of Buenos Aires.  She has served as a Visiting Professor for The National Autonomous University of Mexico, Universidad Cristóbal Colón in Veracruz, and Universität für künstlerische und industrielle Gestaltung in Linz, Austria.   She is also a noted author, editor, international art critic as well as an independent curator.    

Educational Programming 

There will be a Gallery Talk featuring Curator Graciela Kartofel on Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. Guided tours of the exhibition will be available for the community and school groups.  To schedule a group tour, please call Herlinda Zamora, Museum Educator at 512/480-9373 x24.     

Mexic-Arte Museum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.  We are dedicated to cultural enrichment and education through the presentation and promotion of traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture.  Founded in 1984, Mexic-Arte Museum has emerged as the Official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Art Museum of Texas.  Mexic-Arte Museum is located on the corner of 5th Street and Congress Avenue.  Museum Admission fee is $5 for adults, $4 for Senior Citizens/Students, and $1 for children under 12 (except school groups).  Museum hours are:  Monday-Thursday, 10-6; Friday & Saturday: 10-5; Sunday:  Noon-5.  

Mexic-Arte Museum       419 Congress Avenue   Austin, TX   78701       512.480.9373       512.480.8626 Fax

Artist Information

1. Leonor Anaya is an artist who mainly expresses herself in ceramics, although she does some printmaking, which she began when she was an art student. She works clay slabs and her challenges tend to be with glazes. In her work, she investigates spaces, from the extreme thinness of delicate cataphylls (the name given to each one of the skin-like layers of certain vegetables, such as onions) to the massiveness of walls. She also displays an affinity with plants, the sea and with the torturous labyrinths of women's suffering.

2. Alfonso Ávila worked alongside world-renowned Gustavo Pérez for 14 years. Now working independently, Ávila works with the wheel, glazes, and slips. When it comes to forms, he makes giddy expansions, in vertical format, with cuts and inversions, inventing structures within forms made on the wheel.

3. Having studied in Toluca, Joel Bautista Rojo dwells at the pole of love for ceramics and nature, bringing both into play in works made on the wheel as well as with slabs, working at high temperatures, with a special predilection for blue whales that emerge from small diptychs. In counterpart to a volume emerging from the plane, marine animals are painted on utilitarian pieces. The point of encounter between the utilitarian and the ornamental is where he finds his greatest freedom of expression. Bautista Rojo's rounded, oblong and concave forms serve as strainers, pitchers and other unique accessories.

4. Along with husband Joel Bautista Rojo, Margarita Cházaro heads the Mandinga workshop. She is the only one who is currently working with porcelain in the State of Veracruz. Since her days as a student with teachers in the Japanese School of Ceramics and Porcelain of Toluca in the State of Mexico, she found the way to resist the vigor of the school, devoting herself to the study of glazes. In her installation "Women in the Desert," in which she approaches figurative compositions more than ever before, entering both the field of narrative as well as social critique-focusing on a present reality that is unfolding in Ciudad Juarez, a zone where the brutal murder of women continues. Cházaro departs from formal concerns to express concerns regarding gender in an autobiographical and social sense. As for oxides, slips, glazes, and colors, she does not work with strong, contrasting tones, but rather with earthy, sand tones which the relation in tonal scale from white to intense grays used in the crackled surfaces is maintained.

5. and 6. Constantino Méndez & Artemio Mendoza are current assistants to Gustavo Pérez. They are both in their creative development stages of their careers, however, providing exceptional work at the wheel and as assistants.

7. Elsa Naveda has solid training and is interested in investigating firing techniques. Her work resorts to circular and conical forms to express itself, while arising from considerable wheel production including other media such as slabs and appliqué for larger pieces. Semi-figural compositions predominate, although there are those who see her work as abstract. Between clay and the wheel, sculptural and utilitarian form, Naveda has produced an important range of works almost always related to what is organic.

8. Gustavo Pérez has built his own reputation as an international artist with incessant effort and dedication, on par with the sacrifice entailed by utter dedication and without any concessions in a rigorous calendar of profound isolation and reflection. Pérez works slabs, appliqué and repoussé. His stoneware has resulted in beautiful, stylized forms of elongated, twisted vessels. His pieces have formed part of exhibitions in Mexico, the United States and Europe.

9. Martha Ovalle began to make ceramics almost two decades ago. Her interest in the material is almost parallel to the multiple stimuli that are attracted to her in life, all sheltered in her sensitivity. In Ovalle's work, there is a modernity fed by intensely subtle relations underlying those native inhabitants and with the natural world. She is stimulated more by her experience than by rigor and perseverance.

10. Tomás Owen is one of the original assistants at El Tomate—a Xalapan workshop opened in the mid-80's by the late Georges Vinaver and Gustavo Pérez. Other assistants included Rocío Sagaón, Else Naveda, and Teresa Gómez. In his early years, earth colors and browns predominated in his work. In the last ten years, a romantic palette dominated by cobalt blue has made his vessels more modern as well as closer to a tonal aesthetic from yore, and with smaller, attractive, contemporary pieces, decorated with the results of firing with kindling. Tomás' relationship with his beautiful natural surroundings and with the spectacle of seeing the flames of sputtering wood at each firing are unquestionable the source of the pleasurable expressions increasingly evident in the body of his ceramic creations.

11. Maite Rodríguez has a special disposition for small formats, in comedic, tragic and utilitarian spheres. Her small workshop and mini-kiln allow her independence from daily life, allowing her to delve into making and experimenting with traditional formats-vessels and fountains-populating with beings peeking out, climbing up or clustering into groups. She does not devote herself to ceramics from a telluric perspective. In her pieces, what comes together is an interest for modernity expressed in the stylization of figures, and in the finishes. Rodríguez and Marta Ovalle are inseparable ceramists. Both agree they do not make sculpture as a means of making a living and both came out of the Mandinga Workshop.

12. Originally trained as an architect, Viviana Romo's work displays two trends: utilitarian and relief. Also beginning as an assistant to maestro Gustavo Pérez, her work is a reflection of Scandinavian design from the 1960's and 1970's.

13. Rocío Sagaón, interacting in the circuit of dance and the cultural milieu of Mexico since a young age, expressed her restlessness in all fields of the visual arts, and later together with her husband Georges Vinaver, entered the realm of ceramics. Her pieces invoke the Pre-Columbian and Oriental tradition. Sagaón works on diverse scales, from tiny pieces to large scale.

14. Valentina Sandoval's work is customarily of baroque quality and inhabited by a truculent aesthetic. Her art forms a dreadful, fantastic expression, revealing facets of "magical realism" always alive in Latin America. Her utilitarian and miniature pieces express different, dispossessed, and even well resolved results.

15. The late George Vinaver deserves posthumous recognition due to his contributions to the relief genre of ceramics. Vinaver, wife Sagaón, and Gustavo Pérez are all founders of the El Tomate workshop opened in 1984 on a large piece of land owned by Vinaver and wife. Early pieces produced at El Tomate for part of Seven Worlds.