Aurora Estrada (1940–1996)
By César Arias de la Canal
It was that golden age of artistic activity in San Miguel de Allende, the mid-twentieth century, when Aurora Estrada made her mark on art. The steps and voices of renowned foreign and Mexican artists who gave life to the School of Fine Arts, Bellas Artes, still resounded in a remote village of Guanajuato outside the cultural scene in Mexico.
Work by Aurora Estrada
Thu, Jul 28, 7pm
In the context of a Catholic and conservative society, some young Sanmiguelenses approached the nascent school, seeking answers to their artistic vocation. Among them was a beautiful native girl from el Valle del Maiz, an indigenous traditional neighborhood of San Miguel. From a very young age she demonstrated an obsession for artistic creation. “I paint because I have painted even before I was born,” Aurora Estrada once wrote. Guided by schoolteachers, Estrada explored oil and acrylic painting at an early age, but she soon turned to the various techniques of lithography and etching, eventually instructed by teacher Erasto Cortés.
Estrada’s boundless imagination and her rebellion against the imposed customs at that time—it can be said that she was the first woman to be identified as an artist in San Miguel—created an original style of fantastic, irreverent, humorous, and provocative content in which figures and images of local indigenous traditions mix, emerging through unconscious, free-form depth. The reatazos de la vida (struggles of life)—which at the time of Aurora were particularly painful—directed her work, as in the “Esperpentos of Goya,” where sometimes brutal characters, sexuality, imagination, and irony seem limitless.
Estrada’s work soon went beyond the local scene and was exhibited and disseminated in several cities, including Mexico City, and in other countries. The exhibition of her prints on this occasion of the 20th anniversary of her death—and precisely in this space, the Cultural Center where she was the first recognized woman artist—is a well-deserved acclaim for this extraordinary San Miguel artist. The exhibition also evokes the memory of a unique time in local artistic activity, which has faded amid the dizzying experiences and irrepressible transfiguration of San Miguel de Allende.
On the same night, the exhibition room at Bellas Artes will be named after this wonderful artist, Aurora Estrada, with a commemorative plaque.