When he told the newspaper La Jornada that his work isn’t meant to scandalize, perhaps the painter Daniel Lezama was being disingenuous. It is, after all, laden with Mexican iconography – the flag and its colors, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the most popular soccer teams – interlaced with nudity, implicit incest, blood and violence. The most disturbing aspect of Lezama’s work is how close it mirrors present reality. Here, in a detail from his painting La gran noche mexicana (The Great Mexican Night), he mixes women who protested nude on Paseo de la Reforma, one of Mexico City’s central boulevards, with a concert that pop singer Juan Gabriel gave in the zócalo, the central square.
Lezama is unusual in contemporary Mexican art. For one thing, he not only paints, he actually knows how to paint. (Painting tends to be treated with contempt here, while the installation is all-encompassing.) A provocative and disquieting exhibition of 40 of his works is on view at the Museo de la Ciudad de México (The Mexico City Museum) on Calle Pino Suárez in the centro histórico until the end of May.