The importance of being self-sufficient: Néstor Jiménez. Fotografía de Arturo Soto
Photography by Arturo Soto

The importance of being self-sufficient: Néstor Jiménez

Work by Néstor Jiménez
By Manuel Guerrero
La más reciente exposición del artista Néstor Jiménez en la galería PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, titulada La importancia de ser autosuficiente, parte de una reflexión sobre las implicaciones ideológicas de la arquitectura moderna en México.

The most recent exhibition by artist Néstor Jiménez at PROYECTOSMONCLOVA gallery, entitled The Importance of Being Self-Sufficient, reflects on the ideological implications of modern architecture in Mexico; namely, how political aspirations around socialist governments defined much of Mexico’s landscape in the 20th century, as well as the welfare expectations of a society that was venturing into the dynamics of a new model of work and subsistence.

The Importance of Being Self-Sufficient shows a series of paintings charged with a critical look at the cult of personality seen across most leftist governments, where the solemn representation of their leaders becomes a solipsistic, almost messianic justification to their political relevance. Through a creative process where assemblage takes on great importance, Jiménez presents allusions to the Mexican urban landscape, based on construction materials, and visual references to movements such as Russian constructivism and pop culture.

Considering the current political context in Mexico as well as the media’s handling of the president’s image, the exhibition’s approach is suggestive both for the content of the paintings and their background, as well as for the plastic development of each piece.  Far from each work doing justice to the title of the exhibition and showing us a self-sufficient reality, a panorama that we may only glimpse at through its own symbolic configuration, the realization of the paintings selected for the exhibition have no qualms in showing their condition of assembly and material weight, as can be seen in A mountaineer is surprised to discover the shadow of a giant that is nothing more than his own shadow (2020), where the screws that keep the pictorial support fixed are visible, integrating as part of the composition. And I am not mentioning this as if it were a problem.

In the German philosophical tradition, many have been interested in playing with language and recognizing the curious affinities between words such as bild (image), bildung (formation, with pedagogical implications) and the word bilden, which refers to the process of building, whether in an architectural, social or conceptual sense. I mention this because in Jiménez’s proposal a great part of these meanings and variations of bild converge: the formative and didactic part that he takes up in painting was crucial for the development of Soviet governments, to the extent that the objects aimed at children’s play were loaded with ideological implications.

This is present in Jiménez’s understanding of architecture, where he generates an aesthetic charged with a certain playfulness along with the use of concrete, construction materials and a flattening technique visible in many projects carried out in modern Mexico, something that can be noticed in the piece En los artífices está la continuidad de la cultura (2020). In this sense, the game and the stories aimed at the younger generations of that period are vindicated as processes of cultural configuration, something that had already been made visible in essays such as Para leer al Pato Donald. Comunicación de masa y colonialismo (1971), here he shows how this process was crucial for both capitalist and socialist governments; a dispute during which Mexico was not on the sidelines and which Jiménez explores from his imaginary.

The moral sense and the need to reaffirm a political project are not only issues that arise in the monumentality and remain in the landscape of a country —seeking a permanence based on the durability of materials—, but also cross idiosyncrasies and collective desires. The central question asked by Néstor Jiménez is what kind of social construction is being generated in present times, and from what historical starting point.

Manuel Guerrero

Participó en más de quince exposiciones colectivas y encuentros de arte sonoro en México, Reino Unido, Japón y España. A la par de la producción artística, ha escrito para más de doce plataformas dedicadas a la reseña y crítica de arte.

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