Two Mexican Painters Grapple with Identity: A Review of Julio Galán and Daniel Lezama


"Traditional masculinity was problematic for these two Mexican painters. Julio Galán (1958-2006) appears to have fled from it in these paintings that date from 1984 to 1991. Born to a wealthy family in the mining country of northeast Mexico, his quirky style of self-referential surrealism, which appears not unlike Frida Kahlo’s, brought him into the circle of Andy Warhol. In his earliest piece, he portrays himself as a lonely boy with magical powers. In subsequent works, he floats a small, boyish self-portrait somewhere in the pictorial field. Eventually, the little face vanishes along with, perhaps, his painful self-awareness of a sexual identity that was more acceptable among artists in lower Manhattan than it was in rural Mexico. The final piece, titled “Thirty Three,” his age at the time, presents a dream-like, blurry vision of a remote castle amid hills, lakes and young flesh. He finally had something beautiful to share."

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May 17, 2016

Installation view with works by Daniel Lezama at Mana Contemporary Chicago, Spring 2016