In his series of photographic images, “The World After the Humans” Luis Enguita imagines modernist buildings which have been abandoned by humans in perfect state, and now enjoyed by butterflies and penguins. Enguita is one of the artists on display at “Shaped in Mexico” which has been showing new art from Mexico.
While START displayed new artists from around the world in the comparatively elegant surroundings of the Saatchi Gallery, here Mexican art is shown against the backcloth of decay with paint peeling from the brick walls and ceilings of the Bargehouse at Oxo Wharf. Both exhibitions had the same aim of bringing new artists to London.
The Bargehouse dates back to around 1900 when a power station was built on the Oxo Tower Wharf (then known as Stamford Wharf) to supply electricity to the Post Office, which operated until the late 1920’s when the buildings were bought by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company who redeveloped the riverside building with the famous Oxo Tower. With changes in delivery and processing methods, they in turn vacated the buildings and they became derelict in the 1970’s, until acquired by the Coin Street Community Builders and the riverside Oxo Tower building was refurbished was refurbished with restaurants, residential flats and studio and gallery spaces. The Bargehouse remains as a decaying environment, much loved by exhibition designers, and has a new life as a unique venue for art exhibitions, parties and other events.
“Shaped in Mexico” displayed over 200 works by 32 artists who are either Mexican by birth or have chosen to work there over the four floors of the Bargehouse, with some artists being invited to show a variety of their work in the one space. Supported by the Margain-Junco Collection, the exhibition demonstrated the richness and variety of contemporary Mexican art, with several artists making reference back to its cultural and historic links. A great number of the works examine political, environmental and social issues such as race and sexuality, including 43 posters by international artists on the walls of the ground floor room “Posters for Ayotzinapa” relating to the disappearance of 43 student teachers in 2014, while the centre of the room has an installation of 43 kites, esch one representing one missing student. This not only recognises that episode but also reminds us that, in the time taken to look at the exhibition, one person will have statistically gone missing in Mexico, with another 12 disappearing during the day.