For more than six decades, Álvaro Blancarte has been mining the topography of Baja California and defining the artistic landscape of this region. Inspired by the mythologies of the Kumiai culture, the light that shines on the mountains of Tecate, and the idyllic scenery described in Latin American literature, Blancarte experiments with textures, materials, and colors to depict the splendor of the deserts of Baja California. Using sands and marble powder mixed with acrylic and enamel paints, he makes a primal mark on the canvas, leaving behind a trace of his presence. In Atavico II [Atavic II] (2014), Blancarte reveals the legacy of the land, making a cartographic incision that exudes a vibrant lapis lazuli, reminiscent of the streams that once traversed the mountains or the deep blue skies of the desert. In these works, we become aware of his legacy as a mentor of an important generation of Tijuana-based artists.
This exhibition presents a new body of work alongside four of the artist’s earlier pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection, including Hecho en Mexico (2005). In his new series, Blancarte created 30 paintings, each measuring 30 by 30 centimeters (approximately 12 by 12 inches). Though he traditionally works on large-scale canvases and murals, these small canvases allowed the artist to intently reinterpret his own history. The series soon expanded and set him on an iconographic mapping of the present with more than 50 works, a selection of which are represented in the exhibition.
Álvaro Blancarte: Marking the Present is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by generous in-kind support from el Centro Cultural Tijuana through the Secretariat of Culture of Mexico. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.