Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001)
Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001)
Rodolfo Morales (1925-2001)
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Niña con bandera

Niña con bandera
signed 'RODOLFO MORALES' (lower right)
oil on canvas
39 3⁄8 x 31 1⁄8 in. (100 x 79 cm.)
Painted in 1991.
Alfonso Gómez Sandoval Mayagoitia, Mexico City.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), Rodolfo Morales: Maestro de los sueños/Master of Dreams, June 2009, n. 136 (illustrated in color in the artist’s studio, pp. 16 and 22).
Further details
1 Rufino Tamayo, quoted in Guillermo Sepúlveda, “Introduction,” in Rodolfo Morales: Master of Dreams (Mexico City: Lunwerg Editores, 2005), 17.
2 Rodolfo Morales, quoted in Ginger Thompson, “Rodolfo Morales, 75, Painter of Peasant Life in Mexico,” New York Times (February 6, 2001).
3 Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros, “Rodolfo Morales,” Art Nexus 40 (May-July 2001): 44.
4 Karen Cordero Reiman, “Demystifying the Muse: The Woman as Sign in the Work of Rodolfo Morales,” in Rodolfo Morales: Master of Dreams, 56.
5 Carlos Molina, “Rodolfo Morales,” Art Nexus 62 (October-December 2006): 146.
6 Tamayo, quoted in Rodolfo Morales (New York: Vorpal Gallery, 1988).

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Lot Essay

“This Mexicanissimo painter, without striving to be so, brings along all the drama that obscures what is Mexican, together with the good humor that lights it up,” declared Rufino Tamayo. “His message is simple and direct; it does not remain on the surface, as it happens with what is purely intellectualizing, but it reaches our innermost selves and makes us feel it and enjoy it thoroughly because it is full of truth.”[1] Morales studied at the Academia de San Carlos and taught art students for years before drawing national attention—and Tamayo’s signal endorsement—with his exhibition at La Casa de las Campanas in Cuernavaca in 1975. Morales returned to his native Octolán a decade later, able to dedicate himself full-time to painting for the remainder of his career. “I came here to live in my memories,” he explained. “Nostalgia and melancholy are very important to me.”[2] Like fellow Oaxacans Rodolfo Nieto and Francisco Toledo, Morales probed a metaphysical mexicanidad, rooted in the region’s history and cultural patrimony, in his paintings of the land, its people, and its customs.
“Rodolfo was never really alone, especially late in life,” suggests curator Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros. “He was accompanied by the scores of women he painted, the bevy of angels flying above Oaxaca....He painted only what he remembered, like a huge, obsessive reconstruction of dreams that mingle with the stories he told of actual events.”[3] Morales famously transformed the Oaxacan women he knew into allegorical figures, keepers of an olden world and its traditions. “The female body represents or forms a part of a collectivity,” explains art historian Karen Cordero Reiman. “Among the narrations of the female archetype which appear repeatedly in Rodolfo Morales’ painting is that of the ‘civil female’—associated with the flag and national shield—which recalls nineteenth century allegorical images of the Nation, resignifying them in relationship to other iconic elements that refer us to local history, geography, culture, and politics.”[4]
Girl with Flag exemplifies this archetype: its emblematic subject perches on a puffy, periwinkle cloud, the Mexican flag draped over her shoulder, and gazes down at a mountainous desert landscape in full bloom. Land and sky are ablaze in brilliant hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple; giant, dark-green cacti soar upward in the foreground and then recede into the horizon, the mauve-pink color of their flowers echoed in the girl’s dress. Justly celebrated as a colorist, Morales describes the Oaxacan landscape with intensely saturated, solar colors that imbue the scene with a sense of timelessness and telluric splendor. “Although his landscapes tend to describe the border between waking and dreaming, his atmospheres are somewhat unreal,” notes curator Carlos Molina. “These images speak of a bucolic arcadia. They are the poeticized recounting of his native town, Ocotlán de Morelos.”[5]
“Morales’ painting is here to give us back the joy of living,” Tamayo proclaimed of his protégé and heir apparent to Oaxaca’s pictorial universe. “His work doesn’t come from the mind but from the heart. The message is simple and direct. We enjoy it the better that way because it’s full of truth and truth is always moving. Morales doesn’t have to scream to be heard; he shies away from stridency, preferring to work in silence. His voice begins to be heard because he has something to say, and he says it convincingly.”[6]
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

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