Of the same generation as the more overtly political Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo remains less well known than those compatriots. As curator of Rufino Tamayo: A Solitary Mexican Modernist, Marisol Argüelles makes clear, the Zapotec painter was not a Communist party conformist, so he remained somewhat outside the group, though he believed in social and cultural interstices as providing a “glue” for art in Mexico.
Tamayo sought to advance the Mexican art scene in a less didactic way. Colour resonance became an emotional cue that had its cultural associations. Like Matisse, Tamayo believed that by reducing colours, he expanded the possibilities of painting. His art was less about statement and more about the impermanence and strength of beauty for and of itself.
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