The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, May 2, 2008, Arts

'La Caja Museo de Arte Contemporáneo'

Mexic-Arte Museum,
through May 15

You know how your childhood bedroom or the space under a table seemed so large and spacious when growing up? But upon revisiting it years later, you wonder how you ever fit there so comfortably? Now that you're older, those spaces are small in relation to your body. It's all about perspective.

Currently at Mexic-Arte Museum is "La Caja Museo de Arte Contemporáneo," a museum within a museum. In the gallery hang works by contemporary Mexican artists. In the center, a dollhouse-sized display features tiny autonomous works of art. It is pointed out that they are not miniature replicas. In both instances, the artists have contributed a work. Some artists are instantly recognizable in both settings, like Mario Torres Peña's 4 de Julio. In the gallery, it is a young girl's dress made of paper, and in the display, it is a tiny dress made of paper encased in a small vitrine. Some artists have radically different works, like José Fors; his full-sized Cielo y tierra II is a diptych of clouds of lines with one panel on a dark ground and the other on a light ground. But Fors' corresponding small work is a sculptural, abstracted figure, Mujer cilindro. And then there is Luis Manuel Serrano, who doesn't seem to make a shift in scale at all between Los Pájaros homenaje a Alfred Hitchcock and La banda del automovil rojo.

It is difficult trying to get a feel for the mini-exhibit within the display, but the larger exhibit definitely has a dreamlike quality to the works. A number of the works use surreal imagery, among them Serrano's Los Pájaros and Flor Minor's cartographically branded figure, Indigo Norte. There are the works suggesting infinity. Teresa Zimbrón's Antartida has a single figure, minuscule in relation to the sea of ice platforms, stretching across the canvas. And then there is work that refers directly to our minds' nocturnal activities. Enrique Guillen's triptych features a reclined and contorted figure covered with a bedsheet. Muerte (Death), Pesadilla (Nightmare), and Capullo (Cocoon) provide the most representational images of sleep and dreams.

Between the suggested dream theme and the scale shifts between the exhibits, one can think of the absurdity of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Unless miniatures activate your interest, there is little whimsy to this show. There is some amusement in identifying the pairs of huge and small artwork, but it comes off as novelty. Besides making you bend over and strain your eyes, curator Martha Papadimitriou does not shift our perspective. There is plenty of absorbing engagement with the "regular"-sized exhibit.

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