Giorgio de Chirico, the First Surrealist in Mexico?


The historiography of the arrival of Surrealism in Mexico has focused mainly on the personalities of André Breton, Antonin Artaud, César Moro and Wolfgang Paalen, specifically about the latter's time in Mexico and the controversy caused by the 1940 “Surrealist International Exhibition” at the Mexican Art Gallery. However, the first contacts with a painting described as surrealist—by both critics and the Mexican painters themselves—were made with the canvases of Giorgio de Chirico in the late 1920s, although by then the Italian master had distanced himself from the French movement. The connection with de Chirico was established primarily in the approach of Mexican artists who were in Europe at the beginning of the 1920s. This coincided with the movement of a return to order in the development of Mexican Muralism. Later, around 1928, a new generation of Mexican painters, who sought not to imitate Rivera's narrative work, found a source for the development of a figurative painting in de Chirico's enigmatic landscapes that would account for Mexico as a tragic country, wrapped in a fantastic, almost magical, atmosphere.