Overcoming disdain

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31 years after the painter's death Santos Balmori (1898-1992), his figure and his work have navigated a lonely river of injustices and institutional blockages that led him to invisibility and left him out of the place of honor that he deserves in the history of Mexican art.

As an example, it is enough to remember the failed retrospective that the Palace of Fine Arts dedicated to him in October 1989, with the idea of ​​vindicating his work, ignored by the creative ecosystem of his time, given that his line did not fit into the implacable voice of nationalism. .

Son of the Asturian Ramon Balmori and the Mexican Everarda Picazo, the creator was taken from Mexico City to Asturias, Spain, at the age of five. His life was an adventure full of losses and sadness, which led him to travel between Spain, Argentina, Chile and Paris. In addition, his work earned him some international awards and the acquisition of work by the Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, which would be lost during the Spanish Civil War.

After several personal and artistic tragedies,
Balmori He returned to Mexico in 1935 and, during the following decades, he battled with the national artistic environment until he positioned himself as a reference on the margins, and even helped train artists such as Luis Nishizawa, Juan Soriano, Francisco Corzas, Pedro Coronel and Jose Zunigaamong others.

According to the story of Gerardo Traegercurator, collector and friend of the painter, who promoted that retrospective in Fine Arts, inaugurated in the last days of October 1989, it did not turn out as expected, since, after its opening, Fernanda Matos Moctezumathen head of the Palace, learned that the president Carlos Salinas de Gortari He would read his First Government Report at said headquarters, so the Presidential General Staff (EMP) told him that the premises should be vacated, for security reasons, in the following 48 hours.

Then, the official looked for Traeger and detailed the situation. In response, the curator and the artist's students sent a letter to the President to request that the exhibition not be withdrawn, but the request was not heard and, once the deadline had passed, the EMP took down the paintings and, without any packaging, took them the pieces to the bench, where Traeger He loaded them into trucks and took them to his gallery.

“I picked up the paintings on the sidewalk, while the General Staff took them out, leaning on the list they gave me. Fernanda, who (gave it to me) crying, ashamed, tied up and outraged as director of the Palace", which led to an escalation of claims and complaints from collectors, he recalled. Traeger in brief interview.

Aside from this narrative, the collector pointed out a couple of additional injustices.

The first occurred when the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), directed by Sylvia Navarretedenied the possibility of doing a review of Balmoridespite the suggestion of the researcher and curator Luis Rius and to have the documentary investigation of Traeger: "When Luis Rius He asked her why she had not taken the opportunity to do the review, she told him: 'You and your Spanish exiles!', which showed her ignorance."

And the second occurred at the Diego Rivera Mural Museum, when Luis Riusthen director of the venue, proposed to his council the possibility of exhibiting some pieces of Balmoriwhat Guadalupe Rivera Marin He expressed something like this: “No ideological enemy of my father will exhibit in a museum that bears his name, as long as I live!”

Fortunately, the work of Santos Balmori returned to the cultural spotlight this week, at the National Museum of Art (Munal), with The indelible markthe most important revision that, now, attempts to vindicate this silenced artist, after three decades of blockages and injustices.

Juan Carlos Talavera
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