DMA Member Exclusive: Q&A with Curator Mark Castro

The DMA interviewed Mark Castro for a special inside look into his work here at the DMA and what to expect from his debut exhibition, Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art.

Mark Castro, The Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art. Photo credit Amanda Jaffee

What drew your interest to study and specialize in Latin American art?

There is a vibrancy in Latin American art that captured my attention and imagination. Latin America is a complex place, where a multitude of indigenous and foreign cultures have converged over centuries, sometimes violently. For me, it feels like that history has imbued Latin American art with a kind of palpable energy, sometimes chaotic and sometimes tranquil, that makes it particularly powerful.

Why do you think Latin American art is important to the DMA and Dallas?

I think the immediate answer is that the DMA is Dallas’s art museum. This region was once a part of Mexico and a large percentage of our population identifies as Latin American or Latinx. We have a duty to collect and show art that reflects who we are as a community—past, present, and future. In my opinion though, that is really only the beginning. Latin American art represents a rich and distinct part of human culture, one that should be preserved and promoted throughout our country and the world. It has a universal quality that all art has in its ability to inspire us regardless of our background.

Who are your favorite Latin American artists?

As you can imagine it is an ever-changing list! The Mexican Baroque master Cristóbal de Villalpando is an artist I’ve thought about a great deal; his paintings have this dramatic quality to them, almost as if you are looking at a piece of theater. Since coming to the DMA, I’ve been drawn to the work of María Luisa Pacheco, the Bolivian abstract painter whose works create three dimensional effects on two dimensional canvas. I’ve also become very interested in the work of Sérgio Camargo, the Brazilian sculptor; the DMA has an amazing relief sculpture by him that uses different sized wood dowels to create this beautiful undulating texture. Finally, the Mexican painter Abraham Ángel; he painted only twenty-three or so works before dying at the age of nineteen, but his portraits still stand out today for their ability to evoke life in Mexico City in the 1920s.

What is a must-see piece in the upcoming exhibition Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art?

Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Flores Mexicanas, 1914-1929. © The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project, reproduced by permission

Undoubtedly the headlining work, Flores Mexicanas, by Alfredo Ramos Martínez. It’s been largely off view for almost a century and its reemergence is going to change the way we think about the trajectory of his career. It has such a luscious appeal; the four women are standing in this verdant landscape that is festooned with flowers. Ramos Martínez began painting it during the Mexican Civil War and completed it just before he left Mexico for the United States. For me, it has this feeling of nostalgia; it’s as if he knows a period in his life, and in the history his country, is about to end.

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Catch Mark Castro’s inaugural show, Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art, during Members-Only Preview Days:
Thursday, February 13, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Friday, February 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, February 16.


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