Carlos Orozco Romero

El minero, 1929

Oleo / tela
80 x 80 cm

In The Miner, Carlos Orozco Romero sought an opportunity for formal experimentation. The earthy palette evokes a subterranean landscape. The figure of the miner pushing his wheelbarrow dominates the composition, balancing the angular geometric forms: a brick wall, smoke stack, a rectangular building with an arched doorway, and a conical mountain that looms in the distance. Manmade forms create a pattern of alternating diagonals in the background. Orozco Romero's treatment of the subject defies the political rhetoric of the 1920s and later, in which the suffering of the worker was often emphasized. Executed shortly after he moved permanently to Mexico City, the subject of this oil was surely inspired by the monumental works he encountered there. But whereas Rivera, in his murals in the Patio of Labor at the Secretaría de Educación Pública, showcased the martyrdom of the miner, Orozco Romero created a dynamic composition whose main purpose was to juxtapose the softened human form with the angularity of the emerging industrial landscape. However, one element—the "halo" around the worker's head—suggests that Orozco Romero was not unsympathetic to his subject. The year he completed this canvas, Orozco Romero joined forces with Carlos Mérida to found the Galería de Arte Moderno, in the Teatro Nacional (today the Palacio de Bellas Artes). Though subsidized by the Dirección de Acción Cívica, led by Alfonso Pruneda in the Departamento del Distrito Federal, the gallery was an important outlet for artists like Orozco Romero and Mérida, who showed an early commitment to easel painting as a vehicle for autonomous expression.

Vide Adriana Zavala, Arte moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, 2005.

More of this artist

Francisco Díaz de León Fund