Artist: David Alfaro Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896-1974)
Title: “La represion de la Revolucion”
Medium: Oil on Masonite
Size: 63” x 49 1/4” ( 160 x 125 cm)
Provenance: Purchased from the artist late 1960’s, private collection Mexico City. By descent to the present consignor. Includes certificate of authenticity from Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros, dated 1975, and Adriana Siqueiros dated 2004.
We are grateful to Dr. Irene Herner Reiss for her kind assistance in cataloguing this work.
José David Alfaro Siqueiros was born in Chihuahua in 1896, and died in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico in 1974. From an early age – and in spite of growing up in a comfortably wealthy household – he experienced the injustices that were rife in Mexico at the turn of the century, and which laid the grounds for the Revolution of 1910 – 1917. When he was 15 years old, he began his career as a political activist by participating in a student protest; at that time, the young José David was studying the Baccalaureate during the day, and Fine Arts by night. His progressive ideas were met with only hostility at home, so after a year – and when he was still an adolescent – he left and joined the ranks of the Constitutionalist Army. Here, he eventually became a member of the Chiefs of Staff of General Manuel M Dieguez.
From that moment onwards, his life focused exclusively on politics and art. This combination gave him the opportunity to learn about Mexican culture and the universal class war, a recurring theme throughout his works.
Therefore, the art of Siquieros must be considered in the light of his political beliefs. In his vision, the revolution is a liberating force that transcends its temporal limits. The revolution is the social movement that begins the people’s march towards liberty and equality, and no one can stop it.
All the murals, and all of his wider work are composed with a basis in honestly humanist themes. These always take build upon, or at least incorporate the fundamental themes of: the oppressed peoples and their struggle for liberation; the struggles of the dispossessed to attain effective social justice; and the rejection of war as a tool of oppression, subjugation and degradation of the weak.
He was very actively involved in social and political movements. This participation is evident in his aesthetic proposal, to which he added his knowledge about vanguard movements. His principal interest was in creating public art. In this way, he opened a discussion, giving primary importance to the struggle of the working class. Fascinated by the advance of modernity and mechanization, Siqueiros took advantages of modern resources and applied them his work. His aim was to make plastic arts more dynamic and up-to-date, and he tried to spread this premise to make it universal. The proletarian struggle, therefore, cannot be separated from his art. According to Siqueiros, only by means of the coupling of art and politics can a critical conscience by created. Art will act as the the diffuser and the guide for this achievement.
In 1936, Siquieros began to explore the “Mestizaje”, incorporating the painting of murals and the new methods of mass communication.
The Mexican Revolution is a topic that is a constant focus for his work, as demonstrated in the mural “Del Porfirismo a la Revolution”, and in his work.
In The Repression of the Revolution, in the foreground we can see a farmer, gripping a hoe, as a representation of the peasant class. Immediately behind him, we seea farmer carrying a rifle, faithfully depicting fury and struggle. In the background, a line of soldiers can be seen, in a clearly rebellious attitude. Completing the image is a depiction of an oppressed people, represented by a group of suffering women.
It is a work that clearly demonstrates the ideological position of Siqueiros and the revolution as a tool of political and social transformation, as well as the eternal class struggle. Searching for the “Mestizaje” within painting as a method of mass communication.