Magali Lara: Interior Landscapes is the artist’s exhibition at The James B. Duke House, together with the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and ISLAA.


Encompassing work from the 1970s to the 1990s, the exhibition presents four major paintings by Magali Lara, one of Mexico's most important living artists, highlighting her interior landscapes as acts of reclamation and healing. Her early domestic spaces grapple with memories of her childhood and the misogyny that surrounded her, while her later abstract works confront her personal experiences with grief and, simultaneously, consider the relationship between humans and the natural environment. Through her work, Lara contests the traditional expectations of women in Mexican society and proposes new avenues for expressing desire and recuperation. The exhibition is curated by Angelina Medina, Giovanni Falcone, Katie Svensson, and Vivian Wu.


Created between 1983 to 1995, the paintings on display in The James B. Duke House reflect the changing ways Lara articulated her own corporeal experiences and subjectivity. In the Lecture Hall, two paintings from her series Historias de casa depict intimate interior spaces, inspired by her childhood memories of observing her grandmother’s daily chores. She also incorporates terse phrases that identify everyday objects and articulate the relationship between household responsibilities and questions of self-determination. More broadly, Lara situates the development of the feminist struggle within the home: these interior spaces are integral for the evolution of feminist and revolutionary thought, particularly in the context of the fraught political climate of Mexico in the 1980s.

Lara’s abstract works demonstrate how the artist shifts her focus to the natural world, to the landscapes and gardens that kept the artist company as she dealt with the loss of her husband, the Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso. These scenes may depict an abstracted exterior world, but for Lara there is no separating the individual from nature. Just as the interior spaces of her childhood act as reflections on her growth, Lara’s paintings of the natural world are maps of her personal trajectory. These works remind us of our unbreakable bond with the earth and its power to heal us; in this way they act as calls to protect and restore the environment in return.


Magali Lara, born in 1956 in Mexico City, is an artist, curator, writer, and teacher. Since attending the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in the 1970s, Lara has worked across mediums, creating paintings, artists’ books, and installations. A leading figure of Mexican contemporary art, her work centers themes such as femininity, sexuality, emotion, and identity. Lara has collaborated with important figures in the world of Mexican art and literature, including Mónica Mayer (born 1954), Rowena Morales (born 1948), Carmen Boullosa (born 1954), Yani Pecanins (1954-2019) and others.

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