By Brittany Papale
Amidst the “The Golden Triangle” of museums in Madrid — the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza — a new gallery has popped up with interesting aims. Centro Mexico Madrid opened on September 15, 2011, hoping not only to create an exhibition space for Mexican artists but also to become a headquarters for celebrating Mexican art, culture, and traditions.
Centro’s first show is a solo exhibition by Betsabee Romero titled “Memoria frente al espejo” (loosely translated “Memory in the mirror”). You may remember Romero from the 2010 Moore College Philagrafika exhibit, where she displayed prints in a traditional Mexican style made with recycled tires turned rubber stamps. The artist is best known for her public art sculptures incorporating manipulated cars, usually Volkswagon Beetles.
Romero has exhibited internationally for about 10 years now in important institutions in Mexico and South America as well as in the US (Los Angeles MoCA), Europe and the Middle East .
In “Memory in the mirror” she continues her work on the sentimentalizing of traditional Mexican art and that art’s clash with consumer culture. Romero uses familiar materials such as tires, strips of rubber, and gum, but she also incorporates metallics in her palette with gold and silver paint and convex mirrors. And here, she adds remote control toy cars and trucks with bright colors and miniature sculpture in the mix.
On the gallery’s first floor the metallics take center stage. Although the designs in the carvings and prints are pre-Columbian my first thoughts go to the Mexican-American “tricked-out” car culture. The convex mirrors resemble wheel rims or safety mirrors. Gold and Silver prints made using tire carved tire treads as rubber stamps wrap around the gallery’s columns. One tire remains in mid-print on the ground while others hang on the wall cut up and painted to create patterns or simply display exquisite carving.
On the gallery’s lower level Romero’s work creates a totally different mood. Brightly-colored, remote control trucks and cars are miniature art cars that carry portable graveyards with crosses and flowers. A more modern and slightly larger silver car is parked in the gallery’s front claiming superiority.
Romero’s handiwork, creativity, and juxtaposition of modern and ancient motifs make this show worth seeing. The show runs to November 10.
You can see all of Betsabee Romero’s work on her website.
—Brittany Papale graduated with a BFA from University of the Arts in 2011. Currently, she is teaching English in Spain.