Ajijic’s Mural Art
By Antonio Ramblés AKA Tony Passarello
Mexican art is blessed by the rich muralist tradition of Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros, and even today murals remain a prominent feature of Mexican public art.
Murals are so commonplace in Ajijic as to be taken for granted, but they’re as much a signature part of the village’s character as spring blossoms or street vendors or views from the malecon.
It’s hard for anyone on the Ribera not to pass at least one daily, and each image indelibly anchors the memory of everything that happens beneath it to a single spot.
Murals made perfect sense as a way to present ideas and to perpetuate sense of history throughout Mexico’s illiterate past, but the art form is as fresh today as ever.
As similar as some murals may seem at first glance, their form is far from formulaic.
The topics may be patriotic or otherwise political, and they’re often historical.
Sometimes, though, the primary object seems to be only to create pleasant diversion for the eyes and to adorn an otherwise unmemorable spot.
Their forms are remarkably diverse, ranging from dayglo-bright ribbons to simple black-and-white images.
Some borrow their style from Europe and others are purely indigenous.
Some are painted and some in relief.
Some have a commercial agenda.
Many – but not all – are outdoors. The one below adorns the interior stairwell of the Cultural Center.
They all, however, have a couple of things in common.
One is that each is an original work of art.
Some are permanent – or at least as permanent as paint on stucco can be in the Mexican sun – and others only long-lived enough to commemorate a passing event. These aren’t billboards replicated ad nauseum.
Another is that they all tell stories. Some are short and simple. Others are like scrolls unrolled, so panoramic that each new look uncovers some detail earlier unseen, like the three panels of the mural reading left to right.
There was a time when billboard painting was an art north of the border. These days billboards are created in Photoshop, digitally printed by the dozens onto vinyl, and stretched over the frames of boards that were once signpainters’ canvasses.
One thing’s for sure. It’s impossible to visualize Ajijic without picturing its public murals!