Jail, deportation and even exile will not prohibit a call to arms demanding art construction that represents the native people of Mexico. Abolish capitalism, create social equality and document it all with public murals, will dissolve the problems of the people. Inviting combat over art, or this point of view, may not be the norm in political movements, but Siqueiros would disagree with this notion. He attempted to balance transgression with artistry, but his, “…Artistic ventures were frequently “interrupted” by his political ones, Siqueiros himself believed the two were intricately intertwined” (1). Was his message understood or simply dismissed as political rhetoric will likely be theorized by art and political critics for years to come.
David Alfaro Siqueiros (birth name José de Jesús Alfaro Siqueiros) was born in 1896 in Camargo, Chihuahua, and died in 1974. His life was filled with political strikes, jail, fighting in the Mexican Revolution and Spanish Civil Wars and membership activities associated with the Communist Party. He studied art and architecture at the Franco-English College in Mexico City and was one of the founders of the Mexican Mural Movement. Siqueiros specialized enormous murals, easel and lithograph works that were socially driven, “Throughout his life, he espoused the ideal that art, by its nature, had to be political in order to carry any substance” (2). His painting techniques were executed with great minuteness; using an electric projector allowed him to trace images onto walls, to save time he sprayed lacquer paint from a paint gun and he methodically conformed images so they were visible from multiple angles.
In 1957, Siqueiros created From the Dictatorship of the Porfirio Diaz to the Revolution the People in Arms. Painted with acrylic paint on a plywood surfaces at an undocumented location, this mural consists of three separate sections. Combined, the images suggest the political atmospheres during the 1910 Mexican Revolution when Adolfo Lopez Mateos was president. He shifted policy in favor of imperialism, which supports unequal balances based on domination and subordination, creating anger and rebellion from all people.
Left side of mural. This image shows the political leaders on the left side and the peasants with weapons on the right emerging as a united social force.
Center of mural. This image shows miners of Cananea are striking against William C. Green of the Green Consolidated Copper Company of American for independence and control over Mexico’s national flag.
Right side of mural. In the center of this image, surrounded by supporting political puppets and their wealth, is Porfirio Diaz, the Mexican leader from 1876-1911.
I find the work of Siqueiros to be fantastic and obvious that every image is conveying a message or statement. I think his paintings are reminiscent of the baroque period. He creates dramatic scenes with the manipulation of dark and light shadow and purposefully uses bold lines and heavy brush strokes. Emotion and vigor radiates from every sculptured form and elaborate detail; people are in conflict and history is being captured. The dynamic colors captivate my vision and the political message haunts my mind. Every piece created by Siqueiros is alive with intense flavor and I imagine no apologizes were ever uttered for his passion, action or art. Today, this mural can be found in the Hall of the Revolution, National History Museum, Chapultepec Castle, in Mexico City.