With their myriad and ever-changing nature, eras manifest themselves in flames. They claim their independence, the recognition of their conquests, and the precise limits of their birth and decline. As history has it, in their utopian wanderings, they have before them the proper interlocutor: ourselves!
In this vibrant rectangular prism, Elsa-Louise Manceaux (Paris, France, 1985) assembles a series of dense eras. At the forefront are her own and that of Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). From this spatial concordance and from the dissonances and similarities of both aesthetic languages, emerges this edition. The purpose of this experiment, part of the exhibition Taking over All the Walls, Preliminary Drafts by José Clemente Orozco, is to unleash aesthetic and conceptual exchanges between contemporary artists and the robust legacy of one of the most outstanding creators of modern Mexican art. Manceaux conceives and produces Kaleidoscopic Times based on previous research and study of the collection of Orozco's mural sketches safeguarded in this institution as well as of his mural and pictorial production.
Repetition, pattern, inverted reflection, and symmetry are the vortex of Manceaux's graphic and pictorial works, having long explored the techniques of fresco, tempera, and gouache. From this convulsive center, it is the bodies, the humanoid nature and, on a smaller scale, the naturalized technology that, little by little, differentiate themselves among the strokes and their rhythmic squiggles. Thick, ultra baroque vulvas, lewd bicultural divans, caricatured specimens of dubious race or lineage, among many other epochal maladjustments and rubbings, begin to reproduce themselves.
Indeed, it is necessary to sharpen the eye as when looking through a kaleidoscope and then appreciate the clash of eras. Thus, I observe Manceaux conversing with Jay Hambidge, the researcher of geometric-aesthetic principles present in nature and whose treatise ‘The Elements of Dynamic Symmetry’ influenced Orozco; the brilliant contemporary historian Federico Navarrete explaining to the press why he decided to publish a book entitled ‘Who Conquered Mexico?’ 500 years after the conquest; a mother breastfeeding and simultaneously devouring her hungry baby; a colony of sea hamsters swimming among armor, skulls, ethno-centric idols, wheels, and mutilated fiber optic cables. What an agglomeration! Could this again be a demonstration, or is it the parade, the official carnival?
The artist's approach to Orozco's sketches and murals neither seeks to flatter his image nor to commemorate the Centennial of Mexican Muralism. On the contrary, her artistic work insists on the philosophical dilemma of repetition inherent in Orozco's recurring themes as a critical gesture and existential position. According to the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), a man ahead of his time, memory and repetition constitute the same movement but in opposite directions. Remembrance leans towards a melancholy past; repetition, if possible, is projected as an endless source of pleasure and reality. Let them turn their gaze elsewhere, perhaps upwards! Scrambled and upside down, in their historical, legal, and emotional nonconformity, they must go on.
Victor Palacios, Curator
Photos taken by Noemi Garcia