Focus on Art – June 2016

Focus on Art

By Rob Mohr

Miguel Miramontes
(1918 – 2015)
– Lakeside’s Master Sculptor


Village women

“Art embodies the essence of being human.” Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)

In our home we have a small bronze Miramontes statue of a young woman bathing that we encounter and converse with every day. Many artists here at Lakeside have studied with Miramontes and those of you who visit the Cultural Center in Ajijic brush against his soul—retching Survivors which captures the struggle of an impoverished indigenous family, or when you enter the Train Station in Chapala, encounter his voluptuous women. Who was this master Sculptor? What was his vision, motivation, and innermost hope for his art?

My first encounter with Miramontes was in his garden which was filled with a menagerie of sculptures. They were all there –- well formed women in dramatic poses, social justice commentary forever fixed in bronze, lovers eternally embracing — with the single exception of his public art which remained locked in the domain of city planners in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Houston Texas. These more personal works revealed his salient desire to express life in its most vibrant form. He once commented, “I always look for expression.” This commitment was manifest in every corner of his garden by potent works that captured the suffering of those marginalized by society, the dreams of youth, the erogenic beauty of a woman’s body, or the sensuality of an intimate embrace between a man and woman in love.

In Guadalajara his public art, more staid in form, includes sculptured portraits of national heroes, city fathers, important teachers, and, in a heroic effort which broke the mold, soccer players encapsulated in a momentary burst of athletic energy. A work that evokes sculptures by Myron and other classical Greek sculptors, and ranks among the most sensitive and alive sports sculptures ever created.

This same visceral understanding finds powerful expression in his statue of three indigenous women being pushed back by the forceful winds of injustice (Photo), and in a series of works depicting couples in erotic embraces that convey love rather than sexual union. These intense matings created at the apex of Miramontes’ career, powerfully reflect the influence of Rodin’s The Kiss and other great sculptures of human intimacy and love. They individually and as a group create sanctified space for the human spirit, a space filled with freedom and touched by tenderness.

“Art is contemplation…searches into essential reality and defines the spiritual essence which nature has imparted.” Auguste Rodin  (1840 -1917)

Miramontes’ sensitive and contemplative works bring together all the elements that give form to great Mexican art. They raise questions, provoke excitement and awaken sensual pleasure in the viewer. He invests his sculptures with his life, his inner vitality and strength while he exhibits a freedom of expression difficult to achieve in a rigid medium.

Miramontes was a master in his understanding of the technical dimension of sculpture, whether removing the surface from a block of stone, or forming a plaster model from which a lost wax mold is made – the stage where the sculptor adds the essential details before the final is cast in bronze. Classically trained, Miramontes was a mature artist, with awareness of the human condition, and great sculptures and sculptural techniques, in every period of human history. This mastery became a guide for us and three generations of young artists whose works continue to enrich our lives.

To have had an artist of this magnitude in our midst enriched our lives. His artistic revelations provide therapy for our souls; they draw out our humanity and open doors to the miraculous. Miguel Miramontes’ sensual creations enable us to transcend our self-interest, to enter empathetic union with others. As with all great art, we are given a way of being fully alive together.

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