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Sigmar Polke's Capitalist Realism is Now in Mexico

Polke portrays how the media and advertising shape our view of the world

Sigmar Polke Exhibit at the museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Mexico City, Mexico, March 9, 2017, photo: Cuartoscuro/Galo Cañas
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10 months ago

The Museum of Modern Art (MAM) presents the works of Sigmar Polke in the exhibit by the name “Music of an Unknown Source.” This is the first time that Polke’s work is being displayed in Mexico.

This exhibit is part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year 2016-2017, a culture exchange program between the two countries featuring a series of events throughout the year.

The exhibit features 40 gouaches (opaque water colors), made in 1996 by the German painter who was born in 1945, in what is now Poland.

The paintings have a very distinctive quality to them, especially because they are displayed in a room with dim lighting , which makes the colors pop and helps the eyes to take in every inch of the frame.

The names of the paintings also stand out, some of them are rather long, and it takes interpretation when trying to figure out how exactly they relate to the painting.

Some might even be considered ironic, like the painting by the name of “Over-salted dishes can be rescued if you put sheets of newspaper under the carpet,” which features a rider on a horse jumping over what seems like a ledge; the whole scene is covered with red and yellow paint.

In this photo a Sigmar Polke painting by the name “Over-salted dishes can be rescued if you put sheets of newspaper under the carpet” (1996) is seen hanging at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Mexico City, Mexico, March 9, 2017. Photo: Cuartoscuro/Galo Cañas

Polke uses the natural properties of water colors in order to create flow in his works, which seem to coincide with his critique of mass media and advertising, in that the world drawn by advertising in particular, is always more “colorful” or “fantastical” than reality.

The German artist is one of the creators of a style called “capitalist realism,” which focuses on irony (hence the ironic titles) and on critiquing popular culture.

It is hard to guess the theme without previous research or an explanation, and yet once you have this information, it’s possible to get a glimpse of Polke’s intentions.

A section of the exhibit of Sigmar Polke at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Mexico City, Mexico, March 9, 2017. Photo: Caurtoscuro/Galo Cañas

If you consider yourself to be someone who doesn’t appreciate art or has no interest in art, we recommend that you give this exhibit a chance, because Polke’s work is very unique and appealing to the eye, and his significance in the art world makes this a great opportunity to take advantage of such an influential artist’s work being presented in Mexico.

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