The 2023 Festival of Arts, FASMA, is a multi-location, multi-cultural event held throughout San Miguel de Allende, during the entire month of August. FASMA—Festival de Artes de San Miguel de Allende, started in 2022, and is intended to highlight all aspects of culture, and art in the city. A guest country is chosen to participate, and this year the honor went to Austria, represented in several musical concerts at Casa de Europa. Various artistic workshops, concerts, dance performances, book presentations, and art exhibits take place throughout the city during this period.
A group art exhibit is currently at the Ana Julia Aguado Gallery on Nemesio Diez 10, titled Expocision Colectiva San Miguel. The theme is “Nature,” but focuses on Mexican flora and fauna, featuring five Mexican artists—four painters, and a sculptor. Their works grace the lovely space, and will remain on the premises throughout the rest of the month. The opening, on Saturday, August 12, was an invitation-only program catered by Marulier with a spectacular buffet and open bar. Guests were treated to a concert presented by the string quartet from Celaya, and had the opportunity to mingle and speak with the exhibiting artists. The event was graced by the presence of Juan Jose Alvarez Brunel, the director of the Offices of Tourism for the state of Guanajuato, who spoke on behalf of his offices, praising the exhibit and the importance of FASMA.
Director Alvarez Brunel with microphone; director of FASMA, Eduardo Adame on his right; Ana Julia Aguado to his left; with Sergio Peraza next to her.
The works of Ana Julia Aguado are always impressive; her lovely depictions of women and flowers are reminiscent of the fine art of previous centuries. However, one of her works truly stood out in this exhibit. It is titled “The Boat,” an enormous oil painting, impressive on many levels. The size alone is imposing, but so is the technical skill in the realistic depiction of water, sky, or the diaphanous cloth draping the woman reclining on the boat. But there is more to the painting that catches one’s attention and holds you captive as you examine the details, and attempt to unravel the meaning behind the images. The narrative unfolding before you is filled with mysteries and incongruities, the more you look, the stranger the elements appear. The first, superficial question is about the two on the boat. Where is the boatman taking the young woman and why? Is this an allusion to the crossing of the River Styx? And if so, why does the young woman seem alive, and why is the setting so apparently calm and well-lit? What is the significance of the spheres?
Then you realize that there is much more to the mystery, when you look at the reflections in the water. There is only a semblance of the reality above—if it is reality—but it is not a mirror image. That is the beauty of this work, the baffling inconsistencies between what is above and below. The work is more than a beautiful painting, it’s a philosophical discourse.
Aside from the paintings, the sculpted bronzes of Sergio Peraza stand out. He is the quintessential “nature” sculptor, with his dogs in action, as if frozen in mid-motion, as if ready to leap out from their inanimate confinement into life.
Peraza’s sculpted works of horses and horsemen, harken to the sculptures of United States artists Dan Ostermiller, and Friedrich Remington who so well depicted the American West with their bronze works of cowboys. But Peraza’s works are set in Mexico, the horses and bulls are from his native land, and so are the riders—they are the vaqueros of the plains of Mexico.
These wonderful works will continue to be on display for the next several weeks, and are not to be missed. It is one thing to see them in photos, it is a completely different experience to see them in person. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 7pm for viewing, and details about purchasing any of the works.