Enrique Climent, Retrospective Exhibition, Mexico City Museum

The Museum of Mexico City presents an extraordinary exhibition by Enrique Climent (1897-1980), a Valencian painter who went into exile in Mexico in 1939. is made up of 200 small-scale paintings, drawings and cartoons, exhibited chronologically.With these works you can see all the stages that the artist who died in Mexico crossed in 1980.

The Museum of Mexico City now presents a truly extraordinary exhibition – probably the best ever organized by the Mexican-Valencian painter – curated by his daughter, the renowned designer Pilar Climent. The exhibition begins with a little piece of work done prior to exile, so that the viewer understands the context and where the fertile, rich work that Climent performed after his arrival in Mexico comes from, and stops very specially in the work from the fifties and sixties, which are the most impressive and moving decades of Climent. The museum offers, then, a fairly complete idea of Climent’s work, from its beginnings to its last years,

The Enrique Climent Retrospective, an exhibition that is in the Museum of Mexico City (Pino Suárez 30, Historic Center), In Spain, Climent was already a recognized painter when he was exiled. He had been a professor of painting in Barcelona and had belonged to Ramón Gómez de la Serna’s gathering in Madrid, where he also illustrated covers for the magazine Blanco y Negro,and had made political posters during the Civil War. After crossing the Pyrenees on foot from Barcelona, he was rooted in France in a concentration camp, as was the case with almost all the refugee sea in Spain. He was rescued after that and housed in a castle in southern France for being one of the painters that Pablo Picasso had named to be protected from the harshness of those fields. In 1939 he was one of those who accepted the invitation extended by the government of Lázaro Cárdenas and made their way to Mexico.

On the other hand, and despite the fact that the exhibition gives special attention to the work of the fifties and sixties, Climent’s personality is perfectly exposed, because the changes in style that the painter experienced throughout his life, his experimentation with styles and innovations of the time – with abstraction, for example, or the game with matter – and that are sometimes related to Morandi or Klee, other times with Tamayo or Tapies – or even with Picasso at times – together they do nothing but underline the uniqueness and size of this painter.

Enrique Climent
Enrique Climent (Valencia, Spain, 1897- Mexico City, 1980) was a Spanish painter and graphic designer, present at the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris, two of whose works are preserved in the National Museum of Art Center Reina Sofía, as part of the collection of the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art (MEAC). Exiled in Mexico, country in which he died at 83 years of age. It has been related to the driving group in Spain of the “New Art”.

Born in a bourgeois family in the Valencian capital, despite paternal opposition, Climent studied at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts, and with a scholarship received in 1919, traveled to Madrid to complete them in San Fernando. In the capital of Spain participated in the gathering of Ramon Gomez de la Serna, for whom he illustrated some greguerías, and cutting – edge activities later called first School of Vallecas, associated with the Society of Artists Iberians. He also collaborated as an illustrator of the magazineBlack and White, and illustrated books by Elena Fortún, Azorín, Juan Manuel Díaz Caneja and Manuel Abril.Before, in 1924 he had been in Paris for two years, where he came to design some sets for opera shows.

He participated in three of the exhibition “The Iberians” (San Sebastián in 1931, Copenhagen in 1932 and Berlin in 1933) and in the International Exhibition of Contemporary Spanish Art in Paris and Venice in 1936.

Exile, death and subsequent recognition
He was one of the Spanish exiles who landed in Veracruz in 1939, after the crossing of the Sinaia, along with other intellectuals and artists (such as José Moreno Villa, Arturo Souto or Remedios Varo.In Mexico, Climent approached his avant-garde style to the realistic trends of the 1940s but match the pictorial ideology of the Mexican muralists.from 1964, he alternated his Mexican residence stays in Altea (Alicante).he died in Mexico in 1980.

Four years after his death, the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico dedicated a monographic exhibition. In Spain it was rediscovered following the exhibition of drawings by exiled Spanish artists, gathered by Javier Tusell, as the protagonist of that exodus. From his Mexican period, mostly kept in the collection of his daughter, Isabel Climent, and other private collections, is the portrait of Juan Gil-Albert (1940) preserved in the Provincial Council of Alicante.

After his death, in 1980, the Palace of Fine Arts organized a great exhibition, but later the work disappeared from the public eye in Mexico (although some samples have been made in Spain). Today, 35 years after his death, the Museum of Mexico City offers an extraordinary exhibition, in my opinion the best that has been done, of a painter who deserves to be known, and enjoyed, by the new generations. Do not miss it.

His Style
Enrique Climent managed to live from painting throughout his long life. In this sense he was a privileged man and he always felt that way. But that privilege did not vaccinate him from the ups and downs of fashion. The artist’s career is hard to fuck: it has always been that way. In Mexico, Climent always had admirers and even disciples who became important artists, but Climent did not fully embed in the environment, partly because he kept up with the nationalism of the time, and on the other hand because he was not influenced by the pictorial currents either. Americans, as happened with much of the breakup generation.Nor could he identify with the painting rooted in Spanish nationalism: his daily reality prevented him. Therefore, Climent’s work in exile became very intimate: almost secret.

Climent’s style, like every great artist, is a mixture of the era he lived and the features and style that make him unique. I think he managed to create a very original world of his own in his painting. His work is highly appreciated for the beauty and depth that they possess in an intimate and refined language.

In his youth he had belonged to a generation fascinated and rooted in a Mediterranean, luminous and sensual sensibility, but in that case that tendency was always tempered by an Aragonese park, which came from the mother’s side, and from past children’s summers in Soria. That austere streak saves Climent’s painting of the cloying virtuosity of his countryman, Sorolla, and gives him a rigor that produces a quiet commotion in the spectator: an amazing gravity, in paintings that are almost always medium or small format.

Enrique Climent arrived at the port of Veracruz aboard the Sinaia ship, so remembered in the history of Spanish exile. His adaptation to Mexico was not simple – Climent had a very own personality. Adaptable, no doubt, but in no way assimilable.

The exile was an event that moved him deeply as a man and as an artist. He distanced him for a time from the enthusiasms of the time, and especially from the discourse of the muralists he found in those years in Mexico. He resumed for a while realism as a way to assimilate into the country and also as a way to make a living. In these years you can see in his work a fascination for the new plastic options that the country presented.

In fact, the experience of exile and the brutal uprooting that it implied for a painter who was as intensely Iberian as Enrique Climent was, led him to identify himself no longer as Spanish nor as Mexican, but as a mammal: human identity It seemed somewhat restricted and small to Enrique Climent. Common identity did not go through a sentimental humanism for him – in fact, I always remember that he used to say, like a true Herod, that No one who hates children can be all bad. Sentimentality was not his thing, and that is why he identified himself as an animal rather than as a human one – assuming as a whole all passions, both high and low.

But that amazing ability to match their peers to the point of reducing all of us to our common denominator as mammals is not a hindrance to admire the uniqueness, and extreme individualism in Climent’s personality. That singularity is felt, frame after frame, in the brilliant exhibition of the Museum of Mexico City: the personality of the painter fills the spirit of the spectator room after room, until everything overflows, like the early morning sun, which Illuminates the city to fill it with light and gold.

The Exhibition
Climent became one of the leading artists of the avant-garde in the 20s and 30s of the 20th century. As a tribute to his transition work in the plastic arts, the Museum of Mexico City dedicates an exhibition to the painter Enrique Climent. More than one hundred works of the creator are presented in Enrique Climent. retrospective exhibition.

The exhibition, which tries to bring Climent’s production closer to the new generations, takes place in chronological order, from what he painted before the Civil War (years 20 and 30), until his death in 1980.

In addition to his more colorful, cubist painting, his approach to drawing and caricature, in the exhibition you can see a facet never seen before: that of works in small format which he called ” Divertimentos “.

Mexico City Museum
The Museum of Mexico City is a public enclosure located in the former palace of the counts of Santiago de Calimaya, on Pino Suárez Avenue number 30, three blocks from the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo). The museum is located on the site that was once a beautiful viceregal palace whose first construction dates back to 1536. Since then the building has been remodeled and modified several times, both in its appearance and in its operation, serving as a palace of noble families, neighborhood, commercial premises and cultural premises.

The building that houses the museum was built in 1776 by the Creole architect Francisco Antonio Guerrero y Torres. It was until 1931 – after having functioned as a palace, neighborhood and accessories – that the former Palace of the Counts of Santiago de Calimaya was declared a national heritage. Later, in 1960 the Department of the Federal District decreed that the property would become the headquarters of the official Museum of Mexico City itself that opened its doors on October 31, 1964, after a remodeling by the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez.

The Museum of Mexico City is a space open to meetings, a point where the most dissimilar glances intersect and interweave. In this space visitors have the opportunity to access different artistic and cultural events ranging from exhibitions, concerts, plays and dance, recitals, conferences, book presentations, courses and workshops, as well as specialized guided tours for each of the temporary exhibitions and about the history of the building.

The museum currently has 11 permanent exhibition halls including the study of the painter Joaquín Clausell on the top floor of the building, where the mural known as “The Tower of a Thousand Windows” is one of the most representative works of the Mexican Impressionist painter, a music room, a chapel and a sacristy that function as a site museum to tell the story of the site. In the year 2018 The exhibition “Miradas a la Ciudad. Space for urban reflection” was inaugurated, a permanent exhibition that reflects on the urban phenomenon in Mexico City, through a tour of eight exhibition halls that use texts, objects, works of art and technology to describe the different facets of the city, from its history, philosophical conception, problems, sustainability, architecture, urban planning, festivities and social movements on the ground floor of the enclosure.