Photograpy Exhibition to Open in Zurich: Mexican Lives by Tina Modotti and Lucia Messeguer, Vintage and Original Prints

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The ArteF Fine Art Photography Gallery in Zurich will offer the first ever public showing of Tina Modotti's work in Switzerland, February 3, 2006. To complement Modotti's work will be Lucia Messeguer's Vintage and Original Prints.

A photograpy exhibition is set to open in Zurich, Switzerland February 3, 2006: Mexican Lives by Tina Modotti and Lucia Messeguer, Vintage and Original Prints.

Tina Modotti, the most enigmatic photographer of the twentieth century observes the historically turbulent time of the Mexican Renaissance through the lens of her camera and follows the country's laborious steps as it moves towards the modern age. Between the illustrious Hollywood actress and communist revolutionary phases of her life there is a period of photographic creativity that lasted a mere seven years. The works originating from this time (virtually all of them unique prints) vary between still life, political portrait or photo-reportage.

The ArteF gallery is exhibiting mostly vintage photographs from the second phase of work, which was devoted more to reportage. Suggestive portraits of the Mexican population alternate with prosaic shots of landscapes and are complemented by documentation on Diego Rivera's murals.

This is the first ever opportunity in Switzerland to become acquainted with the work of a photographer who is exhibited very rarely in Europe.

Frieda Kahlo, portrayed by Lola Alvarez Bravo and Leo Matiz, has, in recent decades, become a symbol of the centuries old bitter struggle of an entire country. She embodies like no other woman the tremendous will to live, even under the most difficult conditions, without making any concessions.

Although she was an established artist, with a body physically scarred following a car accident and involved in an unfulfilled love affair with Diego Rivera, the portraits on display at ArteF are neither sad nor resigned. In form they show the energy of a remarkable fighting spirit that goes way beyond the limits of the photograph. In contrast to her own pictures, the works exhibited here show Kahlo's unbridled pride and unbelievably mystical presence. An intense and powerful meeting with an artist who is world-famous for her self-critical art, is guaranteed.

Lucia Messeguer on the other hand, in her series originating from 1979, offsets the powerful works of Kahlo and Modotti. Her metaphor is that of a country between omnipotent history and personal fragility in today's Mexican community.

With photographs taken in two cloisters, her simple group of works evokes the charged tension between the isolated individual and what is, for far too many, the brutal social reality of this Moloch of a Mexico. Through her photographic lens, Lucia Messeguer combines the intensity of a Sugimoto with the vacuum of a Tarkovsky. A poetic influence can be felt in these buildings, which express the vulnerability of personal integrity in Mexico's melting pot of a society. Images between dream and reality, human sentimentality and walls steeped in history.

TINA MODOTTI

"I put too much art in my life, consequently I have not much left to give to art."

Tina Modotti to Edward Weston

Although it is sixty years since her unexplained death, Tina Modotti is still a legend without equal in the history of photography and is now being lauded as the 'undiscovered' photographer of the twentieth century. Her period of photographic creativity lasted a mere seven years (from 1923 to 1930) and her few photographs (400 pictures have been preserved, virtually all of them unique prints) are today very rare and scattered over many collections throughout the world. The intense drive for life and passion as well as her revolutionary convictions result in a life that is like a candle lit at both ends, so that as it gets shorter, it also burns more intensely. A light that burned in the darkest and most difficult decades of the last century.

Puro es tu dulce nombre, pura es tu frágil vida: de abeja, sombra, fuego,

nieve silencio espuma,de acero, línea polense construyó tu férrea, tu delgada estructura...

(Pure your gentle name, pure your fragile life: bees, shadows, fire, snow and foam, combined with steel and wire and pollen to make up your firm and delicate being…)

Extract from the poem Tina Modotti by Pablo Neruda, 1942

Nowadays Tina Modotti is regarded as one of the most outstanding women of the twentieth century. In 1991, a still life with roses (the artist was just 28 years old at the time) was bought for US$ 167,000 at Sotheby’s in San Francisco by the co-founder of Esprit, Susie Tompkins (which is still a record price for a photograph). This sale was the making of the extremely rare photographs on the international art market in the years that followed. Susie Tompkins Buell now owns several of Modotti's works, as does the singer Madonna, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the respected George Eastman House, Rochester, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Collections FNAC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and the Tate Modern in London, and there are individual works in many private collections.

This exhibition marks the first public showing of Tina Modotti's work in Switzerland.

LUCIA MESSEGUER

Lucia Messeguer studied photography and graphic design at the Escuela de Diseno Grafico y Fotografia in Mexico City. Today she is still working as a freelance photographer for various clients throughout the world and has been living in Singapore since 1996. She has consolidated her knowledge of photography over the years by teaching photography, by working in museums and by editing photographic volumes, as well as extending it by taking a course in music theory. Whether portraits, fashion, travel reportage or commercial photography, Lucia Messeguer is quite at home in all these areas. The artist is very proud of having founded the first free school in Mexico City to concern itself exclusively with the medium of photography.

The pictures, which she disassociates from her chosen way of earning a living as a press and commercial photographer, are works of tranquillity, intensity and concentration. The works of this Mexican photographer are composed with an almost musical ear. When you look at her landscapes in Hokkaido, you are reminded of Mahler and the pictures originating from the Zurich Forch are reminiscent of a light Schumann. The photographs being exhibited at ArteF are poetically playful, like Debussy's Preludes, yet also have the exceptional exquisiteness of a Tarkovsky.

Biography

1996-2006

Freelance photographer for various clients, Singapore

1997-2000

Course in music theory at the Royal School of Music, Singapore

1984-1986

ISSTE (Medical Institute), Mexico City

Press photographer

1980-1983     

Manager of the photographic department at the National Centre of Productivity, Mexico City

1980-1983

Freelance photographer for various museums, publishers and banks in Mexico City

1979-1980

Photographer at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1977-1978

Photographer for Corporacion Editorial SA, Mexico City

1975-1978

Teacher of photography in Mexico City

1972-1975

Training at the Escuela de Diseno Grafico y Fotografia, Mexico City,

1969-1972

Academic training at the Colegio Madrid, Mexico City

Her cycles of work have already been exhibited in Mexico, the USA, France, Switzerland and Singapore.

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Alessandro Botteri Balli
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