José Luis Cuevas (1934 - )


    Jose Luis Cuevas made his reputation as master draftsman at a prodigiously young age; by fourteen he was an established illustrator who had already achieved his first solo exhibition in Mexico City. He published La Cortina del nopal (The Cactus Curtain), an article forcefully critical of the Muralist Movement, at the age of twenty (1953). This strident call for greater artistic freedom and individual expression inspired the creation of the group 'Nueva Presencia' of which he was, initially, a member.

    Influenced by Goya and Picasso, Cuevas' work also draws inspiration from the Mexican master of graphic art, Posada and - thematically - from the degraded human life portrayed by Orozco. With a polemic presence and a unique visual style, Cuevas played a defining role in the resurgence of drawing and printmaking in sixties and seventies Mexico. Cuevas' work has developed a deliberate dialogue with literature, particularly with the work of Dostoevsky, Kafka, Quevedo and de Sade. The solitude and isolation that characterises contemporary experience is his stated preoccupation and, as expressed in his drawing, this is one frequently edged with acidic satire.

    From the sixties to the present day, Cuevas work has been widely exhibited in Mexico and internationally. In 1981 he was awarded the National Prize for Fine Arts in Mexico and he represented the country at the Venice Biennale the following year. In recognition of the pivotal role played by Cuevas in the development of twentieth century art, a museum of contemporary art in Mexico City was inaugurated in his name in 1992.

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