Metal and Scythe


Álvaro Verduzco

From May 8 til August 10, 2014

Through an unusual association between the epic narrative engaged by Mexican Muralism and that adopted by various heavy metal bands since the late 1960’s, Álvaro Verduzco transfers the iconography of Socialist realism to the aesthetics of heavy metal, making a carefree use of imagery from various subcultures. The displacement of classic figures from Siqueiros vigorous legacy, together with his well-known spatial compositions, questions his dogmatic stripping of purely formal elements in favor of the clarity and effectiveness of art’s social message. Materialized in three different formats –the façade of the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, a series of twelve postcards, and a video animation– Verduzco’s proposal activates a fluid yet rare correspondence between two such distant representations.

Oddly, the elements underpinning the formal resolutions in both languages–contrasting, for instance, La marcha de la humanidad en la Tierra y hacia el Cosmos (The March of Humanity on Earth and Toward the Cosmos) (1965-1971), a Siqueiros capital work, with the musical style developed by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Kiss–can evidence a striking affinity in terms of the proliferation of heroic characters, triumphant gestures, mythical references, scenes of destruction, discontented multitudes, and threatening figures. The most significant parallel is the shared emphasis on a series of vigorous and violent gestures–unmistakably conceived from a masculine perspective–embodied in the writhing of figures and strokes finding resonance in the distorted guitar sounds that accompany the disaffected wailings of the vocalists. However, the fundamental difference relies in that the heavy metal culture feeds on a cultural discontent strongly identified with adolescence–where fantasies of power, strength and virility only provide shelter from social regulations. While Siqueiros militancy not only urged his contemporaries to reconsider the role of art against bourgeois manifestations, and as such, advocate its mission promoting an art for the masses, but mainly channeled a deep social discontent in the utopian search for a new revolutionary order.

In the works presented in Metal y guadaña, Verduzco uses both imaginaries creating a testimonial about the unavoidable attraction that Siqueiros’ work represents to his own practice –in which, over the last decade and through the use of journalistic images, comics and graffiti, he has approached popular culture from less idealistic, but equally compelling, points of view. In this light, the street aesthetics appears as an illegitimate heir of the Muralist Movement, embellishing with new outfits the transcendental mission of public art.

Exhibition credits:
Curator: Tatiana Cuevas / Archive: Mónica Montes
Acknowledgements: Fabián Trillo y Llamas a mí.