Helen Escobedo

Helen Escobedo (1934-2010, Mexico City) was an artist known for her mastery of a range of artistic disciplines including: sculpture, drawing, installation, poetry, design, and architecture, among others. She is also remembered as an important figure in the Mexican cultural landscape for her contributions as director of three major institutions: Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes (MUCA), the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM), and Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at UNAM.
Escobedo’s artistic proposition consisted of an exploration of distinct possibilities within sculpture and it’s potentialities, from drawing deployed as strategy, media or documentation, through ephemeral or urban sculptures. Similarly, she was an active figure in land and environmental art movements beginning in the 1970’s.
Among her most known monumental sculptures in Mexico City are Puertas al viento (1968, Ruta de la Amistad); Espacio escultórico (1977-1979, UNAM), which she co-created; and Coatl (1980, Espacio escultórico, UNAM). In 1986 Escobedo was appointed a lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and the Arts of Belgium. She is also the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship (1991); a Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts fellowship (1999); the Mexican National Prize for Art and Science gold medal in Visual Arts (2009).


For the first iteration of SOUTH SOUTH, PROYECTOS MONCLOVA is presenting a selection of works by five artists, including: Gabriel de la Mora, Néstor Jiménez, Edgar Orlaineta, Michael Sailstorfer and Anna Virnich. All five artists, while producing widely different work, focus their practice on the idea and physicality of process. The geometric works of Gabriel de la Mora are multifaceted in their subject and materiality. Through his obsessive practice of accumulating and fragmenting pigmented feathers, the artist combines his meticulous craftsmanship with conceptual investigations that result in evocative and abstract configurations. Similarly, Jiménez collects construction materials from houses and projects found in the outskirts of Mexico City as a way of examining the relationship between the processes of destruction, construction, distortion and propagation of Marxist-Leninist thought within social structures in the outskirts of Mexico City. By incorporating the construction materials that are widely used among these low-income areas, the result is a comprehensive pictorial group of work that also absorbs the architectural elements that were essential to these political movements. Edgar Orlaineta’s hand carved wooden wall sculptural works also reveal a knowledge and an intimate contact with the manual process, where what takes precedence over figure and ground is the sensuous matter that transforms intuition into a language. Also working with sculptural wall works is Michael Sailstorfer whose ‘masks’ are sand-cast in aluminum, bronze or iron from quickly drafted cardboard figures in a process that preserves the textures of the humble materials. Lastly, PROYECTOS MONCLOVA presents two tableaus by Anna Virnich. Virnich’s artistic practice focuses on textile-based works, incorporating and layering found fabrics as well as new materials, which the artist stretches on wooden frames thus creating organic and almost painterly compositions that oscillate between transparency and density, foreground and background, agility and standstill. Virnich’s gesture of stretching creates a perceptible tension between the elements: the roughness of a leather-cut-out meets the delicacy of sewn silk.