October 17, 2008

Ruminating with Ruben Leyva

If you throw a rock in Oaxaca, you’ll hit an artist. Some people would say, “In that case, throw it hard”. Happily, I am not such a person, so I was delighted to get the chance to meet the painter Ruben Leyva, one of the gran maestros of the Oaxacan art scene.

I was actually pounding the streets looking for a decent art supply store, when I inquired in a downtown gallery if they had a suggestion. They invited me to a studio in the back and Ruben was there working on a ceramic installation. I didn’t know who he was but once he started showing me his work it became evident he’s a heavy hitter.

Ruben is also a really nice guy. His work is rich with whimsy, irony and a playful symbolism. His newest project is a book of photographs taken during the 2006 teachers’ strike. They include images of riot police behind barriers, soldiers on patrol, and burning automobiles on deserted streets.

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