“El Maestro Francisco Toledo: Art from Oaxaca, 1959-2006,” organized by the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso. The Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ. Through Jan. 6.
Dan Bischoff reports in The Star-Ledger: “Toledo is a later generation modernist. He turned away very early in his career from the overtly political art, often expressing intense socialist values, that predecessors like Rivera and Orozco championed. Drawing on family fables and 16th-century Spanish natural histories, Toledo helped reinterpret much of the Zapotec symbolic universe for modern times. That’s why his work involves a menagerie of animals, many of them not quite what the Europeans conceive of as beautiful, like toads and iguanas, scorpions, rabbits, bats and so on. Often these animals are engaged in violent or sexual acts, and they are not entirely creatures from Zapotec lore (animals from the works of Franz Kafka or Georges Bataille also put in iconographical appearances), but his work has a Native American-style focus on nature. Animals in this tradition are more than a lens held up to experience — they are forces in nature, in their own way representations of human nature, too.” Read more.