An anti-fascist poster exhibition opens after a delay of almost 40 years; artist Claudio Bravo dies; Mario Vargas Llosa goes on a literary mission to China.
- Still life with peaches, by Claudio Bravo
An exhibition of anti-fascist posters entitled ‘Por la vida…siempre!’ opened on 3 June at the Museo de la memoria y derechos humanos (The Museum of Memory and Human Rights) in Santiago, Chile, after a delay of 38 years.
The exhibition, which focuses on graphic design in contemporary anti-fascist posters, was set to be opened by President Allende on 11 September 1973 at the Universidad Técnica del Estado (the State Technical University—UTE), now the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (University of Santiago).
However, 11 September saw the military coup against Allende instead. The next day the army stormed the university, arresting singer Victor Jara, who worked in the UTE’s Communications Department and who was scheduled to speak as part of the exhibition.
Curator Mario Navarro explains that the exhibit was a symbolic affront to Pinochet: ‘The destruction of 52 metres of poster that lined the wall of the exhibit explains with total clarity the moment of confrontation between the fight to defend democracy and the social contract against this savage outrage to human dignity’.
Navarro is the son of the curator of the original 1973 show. Although soldiers destroyed most of the exhibit, a lot of 18 posters was smuggled to the southern city of San Fernando, where they were protected by graphic design student Guido Olivares. The exhibit will run at the museum until 7 August.
74 year-old Chilean artist Claudio Bravo died on Saturday, 4 June, in Morocco. The artist, who suffered from epilepsy and died after a heart attack, had made his home in Africa since 1972. Bravo, born in Valparaíso in 1936, stood out for his realist paintings and still-lives, which owed much to his intense study of Diego Velásquez and Zurbarán during his youth in Spain in the 1960s. Bravo’s works often fetched extremely high prices at auction, most recently at a Christie’s sale at the end of May where one of his paintings sold for nearly $.5m.
Such success, comparable only to very few Latin American artists such as fellow Chilean and surrealist Roberto Matta, contributed to Bravo’s high opinion of his own work, as expressed in a 2009 interview with ‘El Mercurio’: ‘I feel that I am the greatest of all Latin American painters. I am the most important from the continent and the most sought-after in the international art market for some time now. Matta, dead, cannot reach the same prices that I do alive…in the international art world I eat Matta alive’.
Mario Vargas Llosa arrived in China yesterday, 12 June, for a 9-day visit and literary tour. The Peruvian writer will meet with Chinese writers such as Mo Yan, Wang Meng, and Tie Ning for a dialogue on the state of contemporary literature. The online Chinese bookseller 99Read, based in Shanghai, is sponsoring Vargas Llosa’s trip, in collaboration with the Beijing Cervantes Institute, the ChineseAcademy for Social Sciences (CASS), and other universities in Shanghai and Beijing.
The itinerary also includes a lecture on Tuesday at the Shanghai University of International Studies and an honorary degree to be conferred on Thursday by the CASS.
Mexican writer Jorge Volpi, the author of ‘Leer la mente’ and a leading light of the ‘Crack’ literary movement, so-called for its break with magical realism, was last week decorated with the Order of Isabela la Católica by the Spanish government. The order was created in 1815 by King Fernando VII, and renamed the Royal Order of Isabela la Católica in 1847. Volpi was previously honored by the French government in 2009 by being decorated as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Mexican culture secretary Cora Amalia Castilla this week recognized Maya writer Plácida Kan Kinil in Cancún. Kan Kinil’s short story ‘Pichib’ won the 2010 Premio Regional de Cuento en Lenguas Indígenas in the state of Quintana Roo. Other indigenous writers attended the ceremony, where a compilation of short stories by 2009 winners was also released.
The secretary conceded that the recognition of indigenous cultures is a too-recent phenomenon, but added ‘Today with the sense of history bestowed on us by virtue of belonging to the ‘raza cósmica’ that José Vasconcelos described, we can say that the appreciation of the indigenous peoples of America is a universally relevant matter’.
The 25 anniversary of Borges’s death (on Tuesday, 14 June) will be marked with the opening of the Borges Labyrinth in Venice, a reconstruction of the maze designed by architect Randoll Coate to honor the writer and his famous short story.
Contemporary Latin American art fair ‘Pinta London’ ran last week, from 6-9 June. Expect to see new acquisitions in British collections soon.
Will Mexico’s new TV police drama ‘El Equipo’ find an audience in a country where the police are widely mistrusted?