Julio Galán (1958-2006)
Julio Galán (1958-2006)
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Julio Galán (1958-2006)


Julio Galán (1958-2006)
inscribed 'CUANTO ME NESECITAS!!!![sic], C.M.N.' (on the reverse)
oil and wallpaper on canvas
63 ½ x 82 ½ in. (161.3 x 210 cm.)
Painted in 1991.
Annina Nosei Gallery, New York,
Private collection, Culiacán, Mexico.
Galería Fernando Quintana, Bogotá.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
New York, Annina Nosei Gallery, Julio Galán, April 1992, p. 15 (illustrated in color).
Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Julio Galán, Dark Music, 8 January-28 February 1993, p. 7 (illustrated in color).
Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Julio Galán, Exposición retrospectiva, September 1993-January 1994, p. 199, no. 82 (illustrated in color). This exhibition also traveled to Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, January- April 1994.
Further details
1 Yolanda Larios, “Un galanazo en Miami,” El Norte, June 5, 1994: 11D.
2 Yolanda Barrera, “Una entrevista diferente con Julio Galán: Qué sabe nadie…,” Reforma, January 23, 1994: 12D.
3 I am grateful for illuminating conversations with Lissi Galán, Everardo Peña, and Mauricio Jasso on Julio Galan’s treatment of, and inspiration for, text in his paintings.
4 “Galan busca a Dios en su Pintura,” El Porvenir, September 10, 1987: n.p. My translation.
5 Josefina Ayerza, “Interview: Josefina Ayerza and Julio Galán,” in Dark Music (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 1993), p. 8.
6 For more on Galán’s practice of frequenting antique stores and flea markets see Teresa Eckmann, “Julio Galán and the Type: Fashioning a ‘Border’ Aesthetic” in Eds. Tara Zanardi and Lynda Klich, Visual Typologies from The Early Modern to the Contemporary: Local Contexts and Global Practices (Routledge: New York and Abingdon, 2019), p. 283. I am also grateful to Lissi Galán for her brief discussion with me of the possible origin of the wallpaper in Undrampech.
7 Josefina Ayerza, “Interview: Josefina Ayerza and Julio Galán,” in Dark Music (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 1993), p. 8.
8 See Julio Galán (New York City: Annina Nosei Gallery, 1992).
9 Murray Horne, Dark Music (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 1993).

Lot Essay

I chose Julio because when I saw Julio’s paintings I could see and feel their intensity, and I realized that everything that he does transforms into spiritual poetry. In Julio’s painting there is at once a visible and invisible world. I know that it is a paradox, but it is a fact that his visible images also reflect an invisible world.
–Annina Nosei, 19941
The most seductive, provocative of Mexican neo-expressionists, Julio Galán is a puzzle, his poetic and visual games captivating. The artist’s modus operandi was to lure his viewers into his layered web of tantalizing visual and textual morsels. Arresting, these clues may hinder understanding, more than help, sending the viewer “down a rabbit hole” in the process of pinpointing elusive, fragmentary narrative. Galán often juxtaposed text with image on his canvases to complicate meaning, scrambling letters, and inventing seemingly nonsensical words and evocative phrases that needed to be pronounced or sounded out in order to be understood. The artist placed text strategically as visual components on his surfaces, or gave his works confounding titles for the viewer to grapple with: “Undrampech,” for example.
In the analysis of a painting, perhaps it is unconventional to consider the verso of a canvas first, but not with Galán’s. Endlessly fascinating, his oeuvre forms a labyrinth of clues to meaning, opening doorways into Alice’s (read Galán’s) world. When hung on a wall, a painting’s verso is typically hidden from the viewer’s eyes; there Galán frequently scrawled and drew private messages, abstracted thoughts, anagrams, or song lyrics. Such is the case with Undrampech, where, on the back left-hand side of the painting, he hurriedly wrote in black oil pastel the loud declaration “CUANTO ME NESECITAS!!!!” (How much you need me!!!!), the three words misaligned like a crossword puzzle, under which he wrote vertically the initials “C.M.N.” (the first letter of each word) within a circle surrounded by exclamation points. He purposefully misspelled “necesitas,” perhaps to create the word “ames” (you love me) and “citas” (you summon me) in the word puzzle, the phrase likely a fragment of a song that resonated with him in relation to Undrampech’s imagery. Galán interjects, “When I paint…I listen to music all of the time, of every kind; it can be classical, cumbia, jazz, Madonna, (Miguel) Bosé, Mecano, Sting, Earth, Wind, and Fire, (and George Michael). I like music very much.”2 Who proclaimed this state of dependency, and to whom? With this final action Galán completed, sealed, or “concluded” Undrampech’s narrative, which is what, and emerged from where?3
“Through painting I can know myself better; in painting I want to know what we are, where we come from and what comes after death. This is important to me,” revealed Galán.4 The suspended scene in Undrampech is one observed as if through a window suggested by the black framing, a strategy typical of Galán’s compositional approach in the early 1990s. A young girl age six or so, an ephemeral, ghost-like apparition in a white dress and wide, red sash at her waist, floats in an interior space. She is the tender echo of Galán’s sister Sofia and his beloved doll, Aurelia. In each hand she holds a generous dram of dark liquid. Did the artist mislead his interviewer when he told her that the drinks were, in fact, poison?5 Organic forms in the background could hint at a highly toxic flower such as the Gloriosa superba flame lily. A painted profile of an androgynous figure in Galán’s likeness, who hangs on a wall in dialogue with the girl, recalls Quattrocentro Italian portraiture. On a large canvas, Galán drips, cuts, tears, and pastes collage-like layers on top of wallpaper that he has bought from a flea market in New York City, or at an antique store in a Mexican town, to attain sumptuous textures.6 A perforated vessel in the lower right-hand corner emits white lines. Galán explains that it is the soul that flows out through the holes of the Chinese vase.7 Undrampech evokes memory, lost innocence, and longing, as it addresses the give-and-take in relationships, the dance of life and death, dependence, and feelings of love, and even, hate.
First presented at Galán’s April 1992 third solo exhibition8 at Annina Nosei’s gallery in New York City, Undrampech later traveled to Pittsburgh Center for the Arts as part of the expanded exhibition, Dark Music.9 This mysterious canvas, which Galán imbued with nostalgia, danger, and intrigue, indeed embodies that “visible and invisible (spiritual) world” that Nosei so appreciated in Galán’s artwork.
Teresa Eckmann, Associate Professor of Contemporary Latin American Art History, University of Texas at San Antonio

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