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    Soto Villafaña, Adrián
    Lo visible y lo oculto. El mural de Alva Guadarrama en la escuela primaria Juan Palacios / Adrían Soto Villafaña
    Crónicas (México, D. F., México). -- No. 2 (May.-Ago., 1998)
    p. 44-52 : ill.
    Journal article – Essays
    Soto Villafaña, Adrián. "Lo visible y lo oculto. El mural de Alva Guadarrama en la escuela primaria Juan Palacios." Crónicas (Mexico City), no.2 (May-August 1998): 44-52.
    Guadarrama, Ramón Alva; Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984

This is the first systematic study of this painter’s murals in the so-called “Escuelas funcionalistas” [functional schools]. One school was built in 1932 in the Colonia Pro-Hogar (Azcapotzalco Area) in Mexico City; two years later, Alva Guadarrama’s fresco El atardecer y la noche [Dusk and Nighttime]—(that was also called El día finaliza y la noche comienza [The Day Ends and the Night Begins])—was painted on the western wall of the first floor classroom. The article mentions that the twelve murals were almost totally destroyed when the walls were whitewashed (as shown in a black-and-white photograph). Only one survives on the walls of the stairwell; it consists of an open- air classroom scene that depicts a teacher with her students, surrounded by a peasant family with distinctively indigenous features. 


This painter is a little-known Mexican artist who is frequently confused with his contemporary, Ramón Alva de la Canal. Alva Guadarrama was born in 1892. Diego Rivera (1886–1957) recalls: "he was the one who really taught me and the others the Mexican way to paint frescos." Prior to painting these murals,Alva Guadarrama, the painter from Veracruz, helped to paint murals at the SEP [Ministry of Public Education], and the Escuela Nacional de Agricultura de Chapingo [National School of Agronomy in Chapingo], where he may have rekindled his interest in combining architecture and painting. In the functional schools, the skylight would supply light and ventilation as though it were the sun or the moon in a mural landscape. In this case, it casts light on the reclining female figure. 

The surviving fresco shows thirty figures on the left side and twenty on the right, with the three main images in the middle. As with other works, the mural can be read in a number of ways. The initial reading is elementary, highlighting the need to educate the poorer classes and the importance of their cultural growth (both of which were essential in post-revolutionary Mexico). The writer of the article provides an alternate reading that references Masonic symbols such as the circle, the open book, the altar and the compass open at a forty-five degree angle that connotes the Eighth Level (where matter has not been completely controlled). All this implies the sacralization of the act of teaching through the light of knowledge. The elements of earth and sky are united in the tree of life, the source of regeneration, growth, and protection. Therefore: "We can observe the inevitable development and the exposure to several aspects of life as we follow the child, protected by his parents, through his transference and transformation by means of education, to his eventual liberation as a servant of his country."  

Alejandro García
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Univesidad Nacional Autónoma de México. México D. F., México