Printmaking: Mexico’s More Intimate Art Movement

by Ida Victoria Gustavson


Printmaking has been an ongoing and strong movement in Mexican art since the Revolution. Though it sprung up at the same time as Mexico’s most well-known Movement- Muralism and was used similarly as a means of getting the message of Social Reform out to the masses, it has taken a back seat in history books as a major part of Mexico’s unique Art History. But printmaking’s importance and influence on modern Mexican art is evident. The modern printmaking movement in Mexico began with the pre-Revolutionary illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada whose illustrations are responsible for getting the Revolution’s message across to the country’s massive illiterate population.The printmaking movement continued on, hand in hand with the new concept of Social Realism in art, and the goal of bringing the propaganda of a new government to the masses until the 1950’s.


Most of Mexico’s modern artists have dabbled in printmaking, including Los Tres Grandes (The Big Three), Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros. But Mexico’s most well known printmaker is no doubt Jose Luis Cuevas. Even though Cuevas began his career as a thorn in the side of the Mexican government, today he is considered by the same government to be one of Mexico’s most important and influential artists. Jose Luis Cuevas was born in Mexico City in 1934. The subjects of his first drawings were the street people of his neighborhood and they would continue to be a theme in his work throughout his career. By the age of 14, Cuevas had his first illustrations published in books and periodicals, and his first exhibition of his art. He took only one course at the art school La Esmeralda before dropping out and continuing with his own work. Cuevas is most known for his engravings depicting the harsh realities of everyday life: the grotesque, the delinquency, the tragic and the disturbing through figurative images that have been distorted to a point of being uncomfortable to the viewer. His subjects might have a harshness to them, but his delicate use of line and color washes make him a master draftsman and printmaker.His influence on Mexico’s younger artists and keeping the printmaking tradition alive and on the forefront of Mexican art is undeniable.


At Galeria de Ida Victoria I am excited to exhibit two artists whose chosen medium is the classic art form of small edition intaglio printmaking; Charles Barth from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Oaxaca and Belinda Palomino from Guadalajara.


Since his first visit to Mexico in 1980, Charles Barth became infatuated with the country, its people and its popular art forms. Charles and his wife bought a home and set up a studio in Oaxaca and Charles began to find inspiration all around him. “Oaxaca provides substance for my art work. My prints involve images from Mexico and popular cultures such as Kitsch, current fads and fashions, pop stars, t.v. images, films, rock music and disco.” Recurring themes and symbols used in Charles’ work are drawn from the Day of the Dead tradition, the famous artists of Mexico including the iconic Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the underground cultural phenomenon Lucha Libre, and its wrestling stars. Using a laborious four-color intaglio process, color is Charles’ main concern. The intaglio prints are made by a three plate, aquatint process with 3 separate plates used in yellow, red and blue. When theses colors overlap on the paper, an array of color is produced. Charles was Professor of Art at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids for 30 years, while participating in over 500 exhibitions including solo shows, group shows, and juried and competitive exhibits. His intaglio prints are in collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center and Na Bolom in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico.


After graduating with a degree in Interior Design and with a passion for the fine arts in her blood, Belinda Palomino began to experiment with different fine art techniques through various workshops at the University of Guadalajara. There she took an intaglio printmaking workshop with master printer Cornelio Garcia and fell in love with the art and technical process of printmaking, becoming an assistant in his shop- learning the various processes and techniques necessary to master this detailed and highly technical medium. Though she has had success as a painter, her passion is printmaking, and she now directs her own printmaking shop El Sapo Panzon and teaches printmaking workshops at the American University in Guadalajara. Belinda creates beautiful prints ranging from personal and conceptual feminist works to delightful visual plays on famous adages, both in Spanish and English. Her prints are little gems highlighting the various techniques of her chosen medium and the delicateness that can be created through printmaking. Belinda has participated in 10 solo exhibitions and more than 60 collective exhibitions in different venues in México and abroad.

You can find Ida at the Ida Victoria Gallery in San José del Cabo. www.idavictoriagallery.com

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