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Synopsis

This article refers to the mural painted at the “Francisco Giner de los Ríos” primary school located in the central zone of Mexico City, and painted by Gabriel García Maroto. After forming a friendship with the Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca and collaborating on the magazine Índice [Index] (promoted by Alfonso Reyes), García Maroto arrived in Mexico for the first time in 1928. [In the mural he painted at Francisco Giner de los Rios school, there were] seven panels distributed throughout the ground floor, the stairwell, and the first floor. They touched on the themes of education, social struggle, poverty, religion, the beauty of the landscape, and the future that would permit the construction of new generations who were conscious of their role in society. The Russian revolution influenced his depiction of a workers’ demonstration (men, women, children with red flags, an image of Lenin, smokestacks and factories). On the other side of the mural, there are a great number of references to contrasts of Spain: extreme poverty, indifference, Catholic elements, and a nude woman as an allegory of the country’s suffering. A multitude of red flags, construction workers, and rural and urban landscapes appear in addition to the portraits of Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1864-1915), who distinguished himself as an educator; Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1935), the writer and philosopher; and the socialist politician Pablo Iglesias Posse (1850-1925), founder and leader of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español [PSOE, Socialist Spanish Workers’ Party].

Annotations

Gabriel García Maroto (1885-1969) was a painter, writer, editor, art critic and friend to Los Contemporáneos group that had its origins in La Mancha but was now based in Mexico. The article refers to the only example of his work as a muralist in the country (he had previously collaborated on the magazine Contemporáneos as an illustrator and engraver, as well as the first edition of the Mariano Azuela’s novel Los de abajo [The Underdogs]. Both he and the North American Pablo O’Higgins (1904-83) were foreigners who participated in the creation of functionalist schools. In his later book Hombre y pueblo (1940), García Maroto summarizes his artistic and literary proposals in relation to Mexico: "the great ignorant masses, influenced by poverty and the need for a more sensitive form of justice, everything such as the need for a new type of schooling, one based in reality, one that disseminates truth in order to aspire to a life that is inter-dependent, based in solidarity, with common duties and wants." His work was an artistic tribute to the nation that had offered him political refuge, and where he would one day die, with "my great love for this land and my sincere interest in the solution of its current problems." 

After his trip to Cuba, and because of his experience with the open-air schools and his favorable disposition toward children, he was invited to participate in the decoration of the schools built by Juan O’Gorman. He painted his only mural in Mexico at the "Francisco Giner de los Ríos" School, located at 370, Isabel la Católica Street. The importance of children was upheld and in 1932, he founded arts schools for the youth of Michoacán with the support of President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40). In 1934 he returned to Spain and served as the deputy commissioner of propaganda during the Spanish Civil War. García Maroto returned five years later as a refugee and established permanent residency in Mexico. 

Researcher
Alejandro García : CURARE A. C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
Larissa Pavliokóva, Mexico City, Mexico
Location
Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México