Common Themes in Mexican Artwork

Is there anything more vibrant than Mexican culture? The familial warmth? The spicy, fresh food? The festive holidays? 

As with the artwork from any country, Mexican art is centered around the cultural experience of Mexico as a whole. The common artistic themes span paintings, jewelry, and architecture of the country.

Read about these themes, Mexican artwork, and some other fun facts in this blog post!

The natural world 

A key aspect of Mexican art history is the representation of the natural world. Mexico’s most well-known artist, Frida Kahlo, centered her aesthetic around the natural world and the meaning it had to Mexico and its people. 

One of the key characteristics of Mexican art is brightly colored paintings and jewelry featuring a bounty of flora and fauna. These vibrantly colored plants and dense, lush forests are prominently featured. 

Also prominently featured were many different creatures, including animals such as: 

  • Birds
  • Snakes
  • Lizards 
  • Insects
  • Butterflies

These animals were featured in all types of Mexican artwork, but maybe most notably in alebrijes, which are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures. These also often featured fantasy and mythical creatures. How fun!

Religion

Mexico is an incredibly religious country. 

90% of Mexicans identify as Catholic. This has lead to a lot of Catholic imagery in Mexican art over the last 3 centuries. One of the most iconic images of Catholicism in Mexican art and culture is Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, which represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many paintings have been created and even a statue in Mexico City have been erected in her honor. 

While Catholicism is the most prominent symbolism of religion in Mexico, indigenous spirituality is also very prominently featured in art and culture. Many of these items are original works and can still be seen in museums across Mexico. Many artists still utilize these themes, and are most often displayed in modern handmade items such as jewelry and ceramics.

Family 

There may not be a more important aspect of Mexican culture than the role of family. Mexican families are large, and particularly in more rural parts of the country, the main network for most Mexicans. This has naturally lead to the representation of family in Mexican art.

Maybe the most well known Mexican film of recent years, Roma takes a look at the dynamics of a family from Mexico City. Through the lens of an upper middle-class family, Roma tells the story of a modern Mexican family and their housekeeper, Cleo. 

Through it all, most artistic representations of family in Mexico are rooted in the country’s Catholic history and tight-knit communities.

Food

Is there anything more synonymous with the country of Mexico than it’s iconic and exquisite cuisine? Mexico is proud of its food, as it should be. Many people don’t know this, but the tomato is actually native to Mexico, being brought over to Europe in the 16th century! 

The artistic expression of food generally centers around another one of the big common artistic themes of the country: family. Mealtimes are thought of as sacred in Mexican culture, a time for family to come together and a celebration of life and love. Much like many other Catholic countries, mealtime is not only a time to feed yourself but it’s also time to enjoy the company. 

Occurrences of these meal times and of common Mexican ingredients and delicacies, such as chile peppers and avocados, can be found in art across Mexico.

Oppression 

One of the most creative periods in Mexico’s history was during the Mexican revolution. 

The revolution, formed as a rebellion to the rising inequality during the reign of Porfirio Diaz, spurned many great artists and movements. 

Most importantly, the post-revolution message of social and political change was spearheaded by 3 muralists who became known as the big 3. These artists include:

  • Jose Clemente Orozco: Not a fan of European tradition, Orozco’s murals were generally focused on human suffering. These murals were less about realism and more focused on getting across an emotion. 
  • David Alfaro Siqueiros: Taking a look at man’s daily struggle, Siqueiros portrayed revolutionaries and explored the thematic world around the Mexican and Spanish civil war.  
  • Diego Rivera: Rivera is known for his portrayal of peasants, natives, and mixed-race Mexicans. Rivera is featured, along with his wife Frida Kahlo, on the Mexican $500 bill.

Though Kahlo, likely the most important and influential artist in Mexico’s history, focused less on the ramifications of the Mexican Revolution, she is often cited as being born the first year of the revolution,1907. Her work dealt greatly with feminist oppression, exploring themes relating to her turbulent marriage to Rivera and the 2 traumatic injuries she suffered.

Holidays

Mexican holidays are community events where life is celebrated. Most holidays include a big fiesta with your family and friends, often with elaborate costumes, decorations, meals, and, of course, art.

Generally, these holidays are important religious moments in the calendar, and have important symbolic figures and messages that are important to the celebration. This has spurned many Mexican art pieces and creative works surrounded around these holidays.

Some of the most important holidays in Mexico include:

  • Dia de los Muertos: Celebrated October 31st-November 2nd, this holiday celebrates the unity of life and death, recognizing death as a necessary part of life. 
  • Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe: Celebrated December 12th, this day celebrates the day the Virgin Guadalupe, the mother of Christ and patron saint of Mexico, appeared in 1531. 
  • Dia de la Independencia: Celebrated September 16th, this is the Mexican day that commemorates the country’s independence from Spain.
  • Revolution Day: Celebrated on November 20th, this day celebrates the first day of the Mexican Revolution.

Experience the themes of Mexican culture for yourself

You don’t need to go to a museum or fancy gallery every time you want to experience the themes of Mexico’s art world! You can wear it daily with silver and gemstone jewelry from Mexican Silver Store.

Shop our collection of Mexican jewelry today to participate in the rich culture of Mexico on the daily.

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