“San Paulo de Tarso,” 1961. TO: The exhibit has also been in Brazil. Have you had feedback? Dr. Ramirez: I was actually in Brazil when it opened and there was a lot of publicity surrounding the show. The thing about these kinds of artists in Latin America is that they are frequently knownif they are known outside of their countriesin the U.S. or Europe, and in Latin America itself very few people have seen their work. We have very serious problems in Latin America in terms of the circulation of art among the different countries. To have an exhibit like Xul Solar travel to Sao Paulo is a first for many people. They have not seen it. It’s a first for Brazil to see this kind of artist, to see someone that worked in a very different language from what was happening in Brazil at the time but at the same time was related to all of these notions of the avant garde. TO: The program that you have started the creation of this endowmentwhat are your hopes, what are your main goals for the museum in Latin American and Latino art? Dr. Ramirez: In 2001 we established a department of Latin American art and a research center called the International Center for the Arts of the Americas. I think this is a very unique initiative, there is nothing like it anywhere else. We plan to do research-based exhibi tions like this one, which is based on a very serious investigation of Xul Solar’s work. We want to do these kinds of exhibitions that open up new avenues of knowledge and introduce these artists for the first time to U.S. audiences. At the same time we are doing a very broad research project, we are creating a digital archive for writings by Latin American artists, and we are also working with the education department to educate the public. It is a very ambitious initiative, but the museum wants to position itself as the leader in Latin American and Latino art in the United States and probably outside the United States too. We’ve been at it for five years and we have had an incredible amount of success, so we hope it continues. TO: I know there’s lots we could talk about. Is there something you would like to express about the exhibit and about this artist? Dr. Ramirez: I think it’s very important to see his art and understand it because it really breaks down the stereotypes that people have about Latin American art. Here you have the case of an artist who absorbed the language of the avant garde but makes it his own and reaches beyond his country to create a truly universal kind of language that people all over the world can relate to. It’s also very complex art, as I said before. It mixes influences from many different world cultures. It mixes languages and mixes different religious systems and systems of understanding the world. I think for many people it will be a discovery, that a Latin American country could produce an artist as sophisticated and as innovative and radical as Xul Solar. Xul is really Xulhe doesn’t copy anyone. He was very much at the forefront of art in his time. Soll Sussman lives in Austin. He frequently writes about culture in the Americas. WRITE DIALOGUE 307. W 7th Street Austin, TX 78701 [email protected] MARCH 24, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27
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