Thunderbird Hotel to host pair of Mexico City artists for Chinati Weekend

Manuel Gilardi, “Untitled,” mixed media, photography and digital intervention, 2023.

MARFA — Chinati Weekend is once again upon us, bringing art, artists, and art lovers to the city for a weekend dedicated to the appreciation of creative works.

For the second year running, Mexican artists will be at the forefront of a special exhibition at Thunderbird Hotel, curated by Marfa/NYC-based curating and producing duo Jeanann Dara and José Antonio Prat. 

The shows will feature work by Mexico City artists Manuel Gilardi and Ximena Alarcón, and will kick off with a reception at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 6, at the Thunderbird Hotel, featuring a live performance by New York City-based band Public Speaking.

Though longtime friends, Gilardi’s and Alarcón’s works are wildly different, with Gilardi utilizing digital methods to produce visually-compelling compositions, and Alarcón taking the traditional route, creating rich tapestries with geometric shapes gracing the composition.

“Indeed, Ximena’s work and mine are very different. A deep friendship and mutual admiration have bound us for many years. Us exhibiting together might be more of a fortunate coincidence, as we happen to be in the same space at the same time,” Gilardi said of the upcoming show, adding that Prat was the one bringing the two artists together. “It was actually initiated by José, whom I’ve known for years. Besides our strong friendship, he had a keen understanding of my work from the outset.”

The show, Alarcón said, came together with a little serendipity as, though she and Gilardi have had a long friendship, the connection with Prat came together through an art show for Gilardi.

“I’ve known [Gilardi] for a long time. I curated a show for him in Mexico, and then he had the opportunity with [Prat]. [Prat] came to the show and liked it, so that’s really how everything started,” she said.

The timing for the show, both artists agreed, will be a great opportunity to put their work out to people who genuinely admire art.

“It seems highly relevant to exhibit during that week, when so much revolves around art,” Gilardi said. “Like every artist, I suppose, I aim to reach the widest possible audience and engage in dialogue with the cultural community at large and the artistic community in particular, so I am very excited and grateful.”

The show, Alarcón said, will also mark the first exhibition of her tapestry work in the United States, though she has shown her sculptural work in the country.

“I’m very excited to be able to show my work during Chinati Weekend. I’ve exhibited in Mexico, Peru and France. It’s going to be a very good weekend to bring this work of mine to the U.S.,” Alarcón explained.

For Alarcón, who has also lived in Paris, France and Peru, her work touches on politics and religion despite its more abstract compositions. The delve into such subjects, especially utilizing traditional mediums, she said, are part of her Mexican cultural heritage.

“Part of my work is very formal and very geometric, and there are some parts that are more political. I thought this exhibition is interesting because if you look carefully, a lot of these shapes form crosses, and I think it’s important to try that aspect and decide if it has religious meaning or not,” she explained. “For me, it’s important to make the cross less of a religious symbol and more of a part of a composition. I want to take away the religious part of the symbol. I like the shape, I like the possibilities they have. That’s what I’m trying to achieve with my work.”

Gilardi’s work, as opposed to Alarcón’s, utilizes multiple forms of media, mixing photography, painting, digital manipulation and collage.

“The processes in my work are indeed a mix of many techniques, some ancient, others very innovative. Sometimes the processes are simple, and at other times, quite complex. Technique is a fundamental part of each piece that cannot be understood without at least glimpsing the entire process that preceded it,” he explained of his work. “I believe this voice of tools reflects part of what the body of my work wants to express, which ranges from the singular to the multiple and vice versa, and from the spiritual to the material and vice versa.”

Gilardi’s Mexican heritage, he added, has also influenced the type of work he does.

“Mexico is a country with an enormous and diverse artistic and creative tradition. Undoubtedly, being Mexican and having been educated here has been fundamental in shaping how I understand and express art,” he said.

On the selection of the artists, Prat commented, “Although the work of Ximena and Manuel are very different in technique, form and subject matter, Jeanann and I intuitively feel that both shows are a great fit for Marfa, and we are very pleased with carrying on building on our mission to create a dialogue between Mexico and Marfa artists and collectors.” 

For more information visit www.daraprat.com