From September 20 to 24th, 2017, Estancia FEMSA – Casa Luis Barragan in co-production with Galería Páramo is pleased to present the performance Comedia sin Solución (Comedy without Solution) by Germán Cueto, which offers the audience a new face of the Mexican artist. His production introduces the avant-garde language associated with the international artistic movements and contributes to the development of national aesthetics during the post-revolution era in Mexico.
Germán Cueto produced the performance Comedia sin Solución (Comedy without Solution) in 1927, a context associated with the experimentation. At this time, Mexico encountered a post-revolutionary spirit and new forms of narrative. Using the traditional language of the in-between wars period, his work portrays the idea of emptiness and despair of the human being in a world, amidst the ghost of postwar, where innocence vanished eternally.
Cueto’s writings can be considered as part of the most important Mexican modernist dramaturgy movement, the Stridentist movement; hence the performance arts represent a significant role. This tendency focused mainly in structuring a national identity through the integration of popular values. Currently, the oeuvre evokes the most iconic dramaturges, such as Beckett and Ionesco.
The three characters of the performance, a woman and two men, ponder about their own convictions and fears. Cueto is very punctual with his remarks regarding this piece, emphasizing the importance of total darkness in the staging. Therefore, the deliberation of the ‘obscure’ is showcased in the mere darkness, constituting a perfect paradox that encloses the actors and the audience. Unavoidably, the performance transforms into a sound experience based on senses: the characters’ voices, a cigarette, and a window revealing an indistinct urban image, these are the only ignitions in the darkness.
Comedia Sin Solución, just as other works by Cueto, is difficult to classify under a single genre, since the dialogue among the diverse disciplines, such as theatre, marionettes or visual arts, allows the staging to be as unlimited as necessary. Moreover, exhibiting in Casa Luis Barragán promotes a conversation between the artist and the architect, which helps to achieve a better understanding of the historic importance of these two extraordinary characters.
Germán Gutiérrez Cueto
February 9th, 1893 – February 14th, 1975
Born from a Spanish father and Mexican mother, Germán Gutiérrez Cueto is considered one of the most important sculptors of Latinamerican Modernism. He developed a collection of works rich in form, abstract and experimental techniques, from an avant-garde point of view. During his lifetime, Cueto worked in a range of media, including painting, graphic and enamel field.
Cueto began his career in chemistry, but due to the political climate during the Mexican Revolution, he abandoned his studies and traveled to Spain to study philosophy and literature. During his time in Europe (1916-1917), through the acquaintances of his cousin, the artist María Gutiérrez Blanchard, he entered the culture and art scene.
Upon his return to Mexico, Cueto studied sculpture in the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos and associated himself with the artistic alliance of that period, contributing to the creation of the new revolutionary art.
In 1919, he married Dolores Velázquez Rivas, known as Lola Cueto, with whom he created a group of artists that initiated the Stridentist movement in Mexico. This movement glorified a radical aesthetic, inspired from Cubism and Futurism, which rejects the traditional values, modernism and the academy while proposing a juxtaposition of the of the art and life. Simultaneously, Cueto openly expressed his interest for Mexican art, especially for traditional masks, which he used to develop a new sculpture language.
In 1926, members of the Stridentist movement moved to Xalapa, under the government of the State of Veracruz, Heriberto Jara. Here, Germán Cueto wrote Comedia Sin Solución (1927), published by Horizonte (Horizon) in charge of Germán List Arzubide. In this same year, the movement gradually disappeared and Cueto abandoned Mexico and moved to France in company of his family.
From 1927 to 1932, Cueto and his wife resided in Paris where they were related with the artists of that time, especially a group named Cercle et Carré. Cueto exhibited with them at Gallery 23. Cercle et Carré was formed by forty artists from different countries around Europe and America, with renowned names like Hans Arp, Le Corbusier, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Antoine Pevsner, Kurt Schwitters, Joaquín Torres García y Georges Vantongerloo. During this period, Cueto also presented his work in different galleries and salons.
Followed by the economic crisis in Europe and his cousin María Gutiérrez Blanchard’s death in 1932, Cueto and his family returned to Mexico. In 1933, Torres Garcia invited Cueto to join the Grupo de Arte Constructivo (Constructive Art Group). Later on, Cueto incorporated the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists).
During his return to Mexico, Cueto discovered the prevailing aesthetic –artistic nationalism. Furthermore, he continued experimenting with sculpture and participated in the contest for the Revolutionary Monument, eventually won by Carlos Obregón Santacilia. During these years, the artworks by Cueto progressed through several paths due to the commissioned theatre masks.
As a result of his physical deterioration from 1970, Cueto decreased his artistic activities and eventually died in February 14th, 1975 in Mexico City.
Irene Azuela Suárez
Born in London, England. She initially studied at Centro de Formación Actoral and continued her postgraduate studies in Classic Theatre at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Her career in theatre includes dramas such as The Good Canary, directed by John Malkovich, Salomé, also produced by him, and Crimes of the Heart. She appeared in films like Quemar las Naves, from Francisco Franco, and was awarded the Ariel for best actress. Bajo la Sal also gave her the same award. Followed by El Atentado from Jorge Fons, Miss Bala from Gerardo Naranjo, as well as Tercera Llamada and Las Oscuras Primaveras from Ernesto Contreras. Opus Zero, Cuando los hijos regresan and Nahui will be released soon. For television she performed in series such as Paramedicos and Hotel de los Secretos.
Pablo Chemor Nieto
Born in Mexico City in 1981. He studied piano and music theory at Centro de Investigación y Estudios de la Música (CIEM). In 1997, he began his bachelor’s degree in composition. After two years in Wales, he returned to Mexico to study piano with professor Guadalupe Parrondo. In 2001, he attended King’s College London, where he completed his postgraduate studies in composition. Subsequent to more than 10 years of music trajectory in music, cinema and theatre, his work can be appreciated amid other directors such as Héctor Bourges, Mauricio García Lozano and Alonso Ruizpalacios. Currently he composes and produces music for cinema and participates in several scene productions.
Graduated from Escuela Nacional de Arte Teatral, Néstor Galván was head of the Theatre Departement of the University of Veracruz (1982-1985), he worked as an analyst in the Department of Publications of International Affairs (1985-1988), and he was a member of the independent group of theatre, Taller del Sótano (1992-1996). From 1998 to 2011, he was the Stage Manager in TV Azteca, and from 2012 to 2014 for TV Educativa de la Secretaría de Educación Pública. Since 2016, he is an established actor in the Compañía Nacional de Teatro del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Eduardo Donjuan y Zulu González
Donjuan is a screenwriter with great experience in the performing arts and culture production. Zulu, on the other hand, is a musician and movie and animation director. Along with Alejandra Marquez, they form the group Silencio Loco (Crazy Silence). They have developed and produced creative projects, such as movie scripts, animated short films and performing arts projects such as Monclova Doesn’t Exist. Currently they in process of developing an animated documentary regarding the life of Doctor Jacobo Grinberg, plus the production of the second feature film Nieves of Alejandra Marquez.
© Estancia FEMSA, 2017. Photographs by Roberto Zempoaltecatl for FEMSA Collection. / Portrait by Kati Horna.