María Izquierdo

La soga, 1947

Oleo / tela
43 x 51 cm

The year 1947 was an extremely fruitful one for Izquierdo. Rising above the disappointment of her failed mural project of 1945 she produced some of her strongest and most inventive oil paintings, including the first of her Alacenas (Blaisten collection). She held a private exhibition in her house and a solo show at the Galería Mont-Orendain, and exhibited three mural-scale paintings at the Mexico City restaurant "La Vie Parisienne". She also took part in collective exhibitions in Moscow and Washington, D.C. In an artist’s statement published in 1947, Izquierdo affirmed a highly personal and individual approach to painting, insisting that "un cuadro es una ventana abierta a la imaginación humana" This insistence on universal right of the artist to work according to his or her own inclinations was related to her bitter polemical attack on "los Tres llamados Grandes" in El Nacional (October 1947), where she challenged the idea that there should be a single route for Mexican painting: "Ninguna escuela posee la verdad estética absoluta". La Soga belongs to a small group of landscapes of 1947 that are varied in mood. The white horse in the open landscape is related to Atardecer (1947; colección particular), but whereas there the horse inhabits a peaceful pastoral scene with leafy trees, here the trees are truncated and bare, with the sinister noose in the rope swinging from a hangman’s branch. The dramatic sky and the lopped trees recall the fearful scene in another painting by Izquierdo of that year, Desolación (1947; colección particular), itself an echo of La casa blanca (1925-1928), Orozco’s vision of the disasters of the Revolution. La soga might also be related to one of Izquierdo’s most potent and personal paintings of 1947, Sueño y presentimiento, in which she holds her own decapitated head from a window. However, the mood of La soga is ambivalent. Izquierdo’s work often possesses a sardonic humor that undercuts too portentous or fixed a reading. The horse turns jauntily under the swinging rope, presumably neither victim nor executioner, striking a note of freedom within an otherwise bleak prospect. It is not therefore unlike Izquierdo’s own stand at this moment of crisis in her perception of the Mexican artistic scene.

Dawn Ades, Arte Moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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