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Fabián Cháirez’s "Other Colours" is a Revolution against the Mexican Patriarchy


Fabián Cháirez, La invocación (2015), oil on canvas. Author viewing the painting at the UK Mexican Arts Society.

Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours is the artist's first UK solo exhibition available for view at the UK Mexican Arts Society gallery until the 24th of July. The show consists of eight oil paintings of highly sexualized feminine depictions of men that challenge the patriarchy perpetuated by Mexican tradition. Cháirez's work is a celebration of his own queer identity and, at the same time, is a visual disruption of the dominant heteronormative discourse. Cháirez art which focuses on the male body, gives the viewer an alternative narrative to read, one in which the marginalized ethnicities and the LGBTQ+ community, which are missing from the visual culture, exist and are seen as part of the diverse and colorful fabric that make up contemporary Mexico. The only way to change society is by questioning the social structures, and this is precisely what Cháirez accomplishes with his provocative art.


Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.

The gallery space is sectioned by white, red, and blue colored walls, which complimented the paintings hung on them very well. As I walked in, a large-scale painting caught my eye. The image, placed to the right-hand side of the entry door against a white wall titled La invocación (2015), displays a feminine, soft-gestured, dark-skin, nude man with his head held high oozing a lot of confidence and pride gazes down at the viewer. In a contrapposto face-forward pose, the man wears a red flower over his left ear and has a long white shawl hanging from his arms. A snake wraps around his left arm, which he holds up near his face, and the other component is elegantly placed hanging down in front of his leg. The nude stands in front of a maguey plant that exceeds his height. The plant, native to Mexico, is famously known for the creation of tequila and mezcal. In the forefront of the painting, directly in front of the figure’s legs, stands a black vulture with its wings open, looking at a partial human skull that can symbolize mortality. The red background compliments the earthy tones such as greens and browns used for the body and plant, which gives the composition a dark setting. The realistic rendering of the nude figure provides the painting with its shock value. As the nude figure looks down at the viewer, the viewer gets pulled to look directly at the penis positioned on the center of the canvas. The painting is intriguing by its subject and balanced by its composition, making it a great piece to start your way through the exhibition.


Fabián Cháirez, La invocación (2015), oil on canvas.

The rest of the paintings in the exhibition portrayed men in similar sensual poses as seen in La invocación. This body of work challenges the archetypes of Mexican masculinity with eroticized and feminized charros (horsemen). Two paintings stood out from the rest because they displayed religious figures in similar erotic scenes. Against the red wall, as one makes their way towards the back of the gallery, an oval-shaped painting depicts a catholic priest in a side-profile with a gold halo behind his head as he wears a red robe with white lace around the bottom-end of the sleeves and a gold rope necklace. The priest licks one toe from the feet nailed to the wooden crucifix, which he holds with his hands. The crucifix only displays the lower half. The priest’s face eludes ecstasy, making this painting very erotic and suggesting that religious figures can too fall weak to the temptation of the flesh just as any other person.


Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.

Cháirez was born in Chiapas, Mexico's most southern state, and it was in his hometown where he studied art at the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas. He currently lives and works in Mexico City, the city that catapulted his career with his group exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts, where he displayed a nude, feminized portrait of national revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata. A violent protest brought the painting to be partially censored, which created a lot of attention for the emerging artist. How does that famous saying go, "there's no such thing as bad publicity"? Well, that is exactly what happened in this case. Due to the attention he received from the protests, Cháirez has become one of the leading figures in the Mexican LGBTQ+ community and his art is getting international attention from institutions and collectors.


Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.
Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.
Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.
Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.
Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.
Fabián Cháirez's Other Colours exhibition at the UK Mexican Arts Society, London.




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