Rabel is considered to be the first modern female muralist in Mexico although she also did significant work in painting, engraving, drawing and ceramic sculpture. Her work has been classes as poetic Surrealism, Neo-expressionism and is also considered part of the Escuela Mexicana de Pintura (the dominant art movement of the early to mid 20th century in Mexico) as one of the youngest muralists to be associated with it along with Arnold Belkin and José Hernández Delga .
Rabel was more drawn to depicting mankind’s pain rather than happiness, sharing other Mexican muralist’s concerns about social injustice. However, she stated to Leopoldo Méndez that she could not create combative works, with clenched fists and fierce faces, and she wanted to leave the Taller de Gráfica Popular. Méndez convinced her to stay, saying that more tender images are important to political struggle as well. Children with Mexican faces are common in her work, often with expressions between laughter and tears. They are generally poor children, meant to depict the socioeconomically marginalized populations in the country. However, she did not paint outright tragedy or tears. In many of her works, the different social classes of Mexico are contrasted, often with indigenous peoples. The gentleness of her works, she insisted was “for the revolution.” She also did one portrait of Frida Kahlo, a pencil drawing which was first exhibited near the end of her life.
She was economically prosperous, something which bothered her as she worried about exploiting the poor for art. Unlike artists which avoided the news and popular culture as to not poorly influence their art, Rabel attended concerts, listened to the radio and was a fan of film from both Mexico and Hollywood.
She was one of the first of her generation to develop themes related to ecology, the changes in Mexico City, against technocracy and emphasis on commerce. She began a series of paintings in 1979 called “Réquiem por una ciudad” depicting what she considered to be the destruction of Mexico City by smog, traffic and garbage. The works include Diálogo capitalino, Muerte citadina, Los peatones van al cielo, El profundo drenaje, La rebelión de los peatones and México, D.F. Réquiem para una ciudad in 1979 considers three themes, the lack of human communication, the traffic and pollution of the air and ground. La rebelión de los peatones in 1987, expresses a worry about the centralization of the city the excess of cars.
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