Enrique Minjares

Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City

By James R. Young Jr. | May 15, 2014

Enrique Minjares is angry and laughing. The 36-year-old artist draws a thin line between the two in his latest exhibition – derived largely out of faithful respect for formal artwork construction and an earnest sense of humor in what we all must now see as a casually cruel environment for art production in the Americas.

Enrique Minjares

The title of the exhibition now on display at Mexico City’s Museum of Contemporary Art Carrillo Gil is Burst, Grin, Giggle, Bliss, a mature project that gives ferocity in form via a diverse body of drawings that communicate the power of animal certainty, be that attack or self preservation.

The work on display offers intricately detailed drawings of animals in distress or creating distress in their surrounding environment. Most are drawings scrawled on phone bills and tattered sheets of papers previously strewn on the floor of Minjares’ apartment.

However, Minjares has opted to use two walls of his one-room exhibition to draw a semblance of seagulls. On the surface, sophisticated and elegant, the image belies the personal experience of growing up in Ensenada, just south of Tijuana, where clouds of the birds would chase shrimp vessels, conjuring to Minjares images of feces, noise and space invasion.

It is not the first time the artist used drawing to effect a mural, the most important being his 2009 show at Museo Experimental El Eco, Hago lo que se me da la gana (I do what I feel like), a personal account of a particular encounter between the museum’s architect, Mathias Goeritz, and his patron Daniel Mont.

Both, in a challenge to the traditional context of Mexican muralism, are ephemeral with the former project permanently erased and the new exhibition as temporary as the show itself, ending April 6.

The other drawings, scrawled on scraps of paper and canvas offer a strange contrast between emotive and detailed depictions of sea lions, dogs, sharks and bears, baring and gnashing teeth, images drawn from wildlife documentaries and his own personal interactions with beasts, and the abused and crumpled scraps they are drawn upon, a critical element for Minjares, who looks to raise the importance of the drawing by putting it in contrast against the canvas upon which it is created.

Minjares established a presence in Mexico City in 1998, when Miguel Calderón invited him to present at a group show at La Panadería, the capital’s touchstone for emerging art at that time. He has since had multiple solo shows, including exhibits at Tijuana’s mainstay art institute CECUT and the Sur la Montagne in Berlin, as well as being involved in a number of group shows, including 2010’s Zócalo, at the Museo de la Ciudad de México.

Guillermo Santamarina, who has been chief curator at Carrillo Gil for less than a year, brought Minjares on board. A veteran art researcher and active voice in Mexico’s art scene, Santamarina is widely recognized as a vital force in Mexican art, not only for his bottomless wealth of art history but also for his skill at reviving and reinventing spaces like Ex Teresa Arte Actual and Museo Experimental El Eco, time and again using his power as an establishment insider to bring to the forefront non-establishment artists, like Minjares.