|Francisco Toledo: Fantastic Zoology (Zoología Fantástica)
May 4June 15, 2003
The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University will present Francisco
Toledo: Fantastic Zoology (Zoología Fantástica) from May 4June
15, 2003 Organized by the government of Mexico and presented in both English
and Spanish, the exhibit will feature 46 watercolors by Mexican contemporary
artist Francisco Toledo (b. 1940). The paintings depict creatures found
in the Handbook of Fantastic Zoology by Argentinean writer Jorge
Luis Borges (18991986).
Borges was one of the most important and influential poets, essayists and
short-story writers in the Spanish language during the 20th century. First
published in 1957, the Handbook of Fantastic Zoology (Manual de
Zoología Fantástica) was his attempt to catalogue all the mythical creatures
of history and legend. The original edition listed 82 imaginary animals
along with in-depth explanations of each. Subsequent editions under a different
title, The Book of Imaginary Beings (El libro de los seres imaginarios),
expanded the list to include more than 100 creatures.
In 1983, Francisco Toledo decided to try his hand at illustrating the strange
and bizarre creatures of the Handbook. The artist was already a successful
printmaker, painter, sculptor, ceramist and draftsman known for his interest
in Surrealism and in combining ancestral traditions with modern myth. He
considered it a challenge to his imagination to visually shape what Borges
had described in words. However, instead of literally following Borges’
specifications, Toledo created his own interpretation of each animal. The
resulting 46 watercolors incorporate elements of fauna from his homeland,
such as iguanas, scorpions and turtles, and include the metamorphic creatures
characteristic of his art; they also clearly show his penchant for emphasizing
the sexual anatomy of his creations.
The works also reflect Toledo’s skill as a watercolorist. He chiefly uses
earthy colors, gently spreading them over the paper to explore a diverse
range of tones. As in his drawings, he also makes frequent use of stitched
lines as contours for various elements of the composition.
Fantastic Zoology has been made possible by Galería Arvil, The Department
of Visual Arts and Exhibitions of the Mexican Government, The Meadows Foundation,
SMUs Meadows School of the Arts and the members of the Meadows Museum.
All text in the exhibition will be in both English and Spanish. The exhibition
has toured throughout Europe and comes to the Meadows Museum from the Museo
de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico; from Dallas, it will travel to the McNay
Art Museum in San Antonio.