“I am certain that if I have any merit, it is knowing how to make good use of my eyes, to guide the camera in its task of capturing not only colors, lights and shadows, but the movement of life itself.”–Gabriel Figueroa (1907-1997)
Some artists are born to the task. Gabriel Figueroa, Mexico’s most acclaimed cinematographer, forever changed how we see Mexican film. With a career that spanned five decades and some 235 films, Figueroa instinctively crafted a unique una imágen mexicana–a Mexican image–forged in the early 20th Century in a nation emerging from a violent revolution and coming to terms with a new national identity: an identity contemporaries like Diego Rivera, Tina Modotti, Jose Clemente Orozco, Manuel Bravo and other Mexico City-based artists were struggling to create.
Figueroa’s cinematic vision of Mexican culture, wonderfully chronicled in the current exhibit, “Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa–Art and Film” at El Museo del Barrio in NYC, is indelible. While he worked with many of the leading filmmakers of his day, watch any of the cinematic works in the exhibition and it is easy to appreciate how much his influence prevailed. With a camera and a sense of patria, he, indeed, captured the movement of life itself. –Lane Nevares