Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this brief consideration of Alejandro Romero’s œuvre, author Victor A. Sorell discusses the impact of Chicago, Romero’s adopted home, on his works. Romero invokes the industrial ambience and architectural totems of this city in his pieces, thus fusing the past with the present. Seeing Chicano murals in Chicago made Romero “remember” his true cultural heritage, that of the great Mexican muralists. Romero argues that only in Chicago did his ability as a muralist begin to surface, even though he had produced three earlier mural works in Mexico. Romero’s most recent mural project—a giant historical treatment for the Government Palace in Tabasco—took him back to Mexico. Romero envisioned an outdoor mural incorporating sculpto-painting as practiced by his predecessor, David Alfaro Siqueiros. However, due to an economic crisis, the project was temporarily suspended. In two of the thirty studies Romero prepared for the mural project, Contemplación I and Contemplación II, which are tributes to the African-American artist Romare Bearden, Sorell sees a link to William Walker’s mural imagery in Chicago. By the way, in their works, all three artists deal with the struggle of city life, but mainly with the hope that resides there. 

Annotations

This article by the Chicago-based activist and art historian Victor A. Sorell appeared in the March 1983 issue of Mirarte: Chicago’s Latino Art Publication. In this text, Romero’s renewed appreciation of Mexican muralism—from the perspective of a Mexican expatriate painter residing in Chicago—reflects the aesthetic and social dynamics of displacement and virtual exile.

Researcher
Victor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Team
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Credit
Courtesy of the private archives of Victor A. Sorell, Chicago, IL