To talk about your mural History of the sports spacewhich he made in 1980 at the Faculty of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in addition to other subjects, Mexican painter and sculptor Frederic Silva Who turned 99 on 16 September, gave an interview to UNAM at his home in Tlaxcala.
Why did you draw that mural in the College of Engineering?
I had an old association with the engineer Javier Jimenez Esprio, who was then director of the said college. He was always interested in the plastic arts and invited me to participate when there was an activity related to it. He told me one day that he wanted to associate his engineering school with painting and invited me to paint a mural on the walls that flank the staircase of the Javier Barrios Sierra Auditorium. It was a suitable space for her. Engineer Jimenez Esprich gave me all the facilities.”
According to Silva, the title of this mural, History of the sports spaceAnd the It arose from noticing where he would draw it, which is made from the staircase of the foyer of the College of Engineering.
“It was a very generous space. I was interested in the mural about mathematics and geometry because in those years I was very interested in the third dimension. The place likes this talk. They didn’t even order it,” he adds.
What is a sports space?
“It’s the space itself, its reproduction in planes…The College of Engineering’s lobby showed a great deal of activity: people came in and out of it. In short, it was conducive to painting a mural, though there was no shortage of young men who made fun of me and whistled when I was actually painting it.” However, I didn’t even have to answer them, because the other students shouted at them: ‘Shut up, you assholes, you don’t even know what it’s about!’ At the time, I was interested in merging painting and sculpture with engineering and technology. I was looking forward to linking the arts with science and technology: that was the discourse. He supported me a lot.”
people said that History of the sports space Is it The first abstract mural painted in Mexico. Federico Silva believes, in general, that mural painting, in and of itself, is a geometric abstract proposal.
“The structure of the mural is definitely geometric. Murals cannot be separated from engineering because it is concrete in the walls, in the surfaces, in something that defines solutions. In addition, the spectator imposes on him geometry to the extent that he moves and watches him. It is an art that changes and transforms. It has nothing to do with the easel’s drawing.”
Why did you draw this mural with straight lines only?
“Because curved lines get soft. It can be favorable if someone strives for smoothness. On the other hand, straight lines incorporate more refined structures, formal plastic structures.”
Once you finish the Silva mural History of the sports space, not a few students asked him what it meant, to which the plastic artist replied: “If painting and music had to be explained, they would be called literature.” Even today, he still thinks exactly the same way.
“Each of these arts has a certain weight. Painting is part of a unity enriched by the diversity and scale of space. Space and its geometry are always present in wall art; But this space is not a corner space, it is a space of shadows, light and movement,” he emphasizes.
Desire for perfection
According to the blog of Roberto Acuña, Silva’s assistant, the preparation of the history of the mural of the sports space began on May 1, 1980 and opened on September 16 of the same year, although Acuña notes that, in fact, the works ended on February 12, 1981 due to the master’s desire for perfection.
Why did you keep working on this mural after it opened?
“Because I didn’t finish it. His inauguration was scheduled by the academics; but I worked at a different time than theirs. I wanted to integrate models, while they wanted to generate theories.”
in terms of dealing with David Alvaro Siqueiros Silva remembers that the most important lesson left by the Chihuahuan plastic artist was his strong drive to incorporate the mural space into a whole, rather than dividing it into small squares.
“I learned from him to move in that space that he thought was best suited for murals,” he says.
How was the relationship between your artistic work and politics?
“I don’t know… what I do know is that if a formative work is separated from politics, it is lost, because one begins to work in a tradition that seems more valuable and original, but only apparently. If the form has no philosophical content to support it, it is limit The same is nothing.”
after drawing History of the sports spaceSilva followed a path that led him to make huge sculptures like Pedregal snakesmade around 1986, in volcanic stone, in the sculpture walkway at Ciudad Universitaria.
About this transition from geometric drawing to sculptural forms integrated with nature, he declares: “All arts complement each other, they are twins. Now, both mural painting and sculpture must be based on a well-established geometry and philosophical content. Basically, they are the same thing.”
Some people may have been surprised that Federico Silva turned from an abstract painting into a sculpture with some figurative, albeit geometric, elements.
However, I believe that abstraction and photography go together in mural painting and even in sculpture. It requires very precise and very specific shapes. Shape is what keeps him physically fit,” he says.
How did you deal with Mexican art critic and historian Raquel Tebol?
“We didn’t have a good relationship. When she could, she would attack me and then I would fight back. That’s how we were destroying each other.”
What is the contribution of Mexican muralists to murals for the rest of the world?
“They were the first to begin to see the parietal space as an active sports space, in motion, and not as a small square or many small squares,” finally answers the painter and sculptor who created, with other fine artists, Sculpture space in the university city He is currently working on some unpublished works for the exhibition which will soon be dedicated to him at the Palacio de Bellas Artes which will be named Battle and Brotherhood.